Your identity is key to your emotional, mental and spiritual health. As a follower of Jesus, you have been given a new identity. This new identity will unleash limitless possibilities, joy, and peace.
Life is filled with ups and downs, highs and lows, but God has equipped us to handle them all and to grow through them. Life with God doesn’t provide immunity from challenges but gives you the tools to pass every test and overcome every challenge.
In Philippians 4:10-13 a guy by the name of Paul, writes to the church in Philippi from King Herod’s praetorium or prison. Prison wasn’t punishment in Bible days; it was the holding cell while you awaited trial or execution. It’s this disposition where Paul expresses his thankfulness.
You can imagine the depth of his gratitude that someone was thinking of him and acted tangibly while he was at one of his darkest moments. Most people avoided those in prison for fear of guilt by association.
This serves as a lesson to us on the significance of supporting one another. There are a few ways that we can support one another.
Prayer is a powerful means of cutting through the darkness and tearing down strongholds that may keep people from joy and peace.
2. A Word of Encouragement
Sending a text, email or making a phone call to encourage someone will mean more than you may know. Encouragement can be the make or break point for someone.
3. Meet a tangible need
You might not be able to help everyone, but when it’s in your means to help someone you should.
Then in verse 12 Paul describes life in seasons. These seasons are unavoidable no matter the length of time you’ve served God, your title, or the amount of faith you have.
“I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound.”
The word “know” uniquely bridges the activity of seeing something which leads to knowing it clearly. Paul’s experiences were literal, not metaphorical. The frequent use of the pronoun “I” shows that he did his homework, learned the lesson, and passed the test.
Likewise, the word learned in our text is more about the process, not just the object of what was learned. In developing faith and our identity, there is no learning without going through the process.
If we try to avoid the test because it’s too hard, then we are certain to repeat the lesson over and over.
To be brought low means:
• To be humbled,
• To lose status, To be humiliated,
• To subject oneself to strict discipline.
To be brought low is a twofold experience; it’s something that both external circumstances do to us but also a choice we make in being humble.
The testing of our faith can be unpleasant at times, yet they are required for spiritual growth. Avoiding these moments is to forfeit the fruit these seasons produce.
Without managing, times of humbling, our times of abundance will be short-lived.
Paul also knew what it was like to have an abundance. The danger with abundance is we can lose our dependence on God and have our identity spoiled by excess.
So what was Paul’s secret, how was he able to stay centered no matter his circumstances?
Paul mastered the characteristic of contentment.
• Contentment isn’t the silencing of ambition or a lack of faith, but it is making the best use of what you have and not coveting what you don’t have.
• Contentment requires you to focus on the faithfulness of God and not on what you don’t have.
How do you know if you are content?
1. Can you genuinely give thanks to God when times are tight, and when you have more than enough?
2. Are you generous in both seasons?
3. Are you focused on God as your provider or on what you want/need?
In verse 13, Paul wraps up his encouragement on contentment with one of the most often misunderstood verses in the Bible.
“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
Paul is not claiming the ability to do all things at any time without exception. The rule of context demands that we define what all means.
When taken out of context, we can make the “all” in this verse apply to anything we are not naturally good at doing. I can cook, play basketball, draw, climb a literal mountain, pilot an airplane; I can perform open-heart surgery through Him who strengthens me.
Who wants a doctor whose only experience with open-heart surgery is quoting Philippians 4:13? The context of “all” is contentment.
Paul is not going to be marginalized by his circumstances. His strength comes from God to be content with any season he is in.
Being content means;
• My faith will not be shaken.
• My praise will not be silenced.
• My hope will not be diminished.
Contentment knows that God is faithful, and He is my provider. No matter what I have or what I want, I trust God without flinching or hesitation.
Are you content?