By Mike Dawson
Pastor Emeritus, First Baptist Church, Columbia
A pastor friend told me he had preached a very long series of sermons from the book of Hebrews. One Sunday he announced “the final message” in that series, and the congregation stood and applauded! But he told them he was now beginning a new series called “Things I Missed the First Time through Hebrews.” We might chuckle over that, yet as we come to the final lesson in a six-part series in the book of Philippians, I’d gladly do another six weeks, calling them things I missed the first time through Philippians. However, next week we start diving into Colossians, so today is our last look at Philippians.
And oh, what ‘a look’ it is! Our study text, Philippians 4:10-20 could be divided into two parts, each part containing one of the highest and happiest verses ever written — Philippians 4:13 and 4:19.
Part 1, verses 10-18, gives us a unique portrait of Paul as the man who has everything. This letter to the Philippian church originated from Paul’s heart as a “thank you note.” He wanted to express gratitude to the congregation for sending Epaphroditus, a very committed believer, with a special gift. We’re not told what it was, but we know it brought encouragement to Paul in an hour of discouragement.
Possibly he waited until the end of his letter to say thanks to the Philippians because he felt compelled to speak first about unity in the church. Paul now stated that he didn’t really seek their gift; he had everything. Christ was all in all to him. But he was glad the Philippians gave — and grew; he knew that giving was the heart of the Gospel. “God so loved…that He gave.”
In the midst of his self-portrait, Paul revealed in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Those ten powerful words showed that successful Christian living requires a right attitude about myself, (“I can”), my situation, (“do all things”), and my strength (“through CHRIST who strengthens me”). I was initiated into RAs (Royal Ambassadors) at age nine. I was given a very large, bulky and heavy backpack and had to carry it through a blacked-out room. When I finally found a door and stumbled through it, the backpack was lifted, and a man’s kind voice reminded me that JESUS would give me His strength for any load. It’s not surprising that a few months later, during a revival, I invited Jesus to be my Lord and Savior and followed Him in baptism. He’s been my strength ever since.
Part 2, verses 19-20, gives us a unique portrait of all Christ-followers as the men and women who also have everything! The high peak here is verse 19, “And MY God shall supply all YOUR needs according to HIS riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” The personal pronouns are in all caps on purpose. A turning point in the life of renowned preacher/pastor R.G. Lee was when, as a young man, he heard F.B. Meyer say, “You never test the resources of God until you attempt the impossible.” God has supplied all we need, out of Christ’s glorious riches. “YAY: Yahweh Answered Yes!” B&R — Dawson is pastor emeritus at First Baptist Church, Columbia, and also serves as transitional interim around the state.