Philippians 4 is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible. When I was in Ministry School I memorized this entire book because I loved it so much.
Giving you a brief synopsis, Philippians 4 is a message about being full of the joy of the lord, praying, and how to stop worrying. This chapter sums up my Christianity over the last few years pretty well.
One of the things God keeps reminding me of is to trust in him. In a post-pandemic, pre-economic collapse world. That can get extremely hard. I also lost my job recently, so I’m surviving on less income than usual. But Philippians 4 teaches me to have the joy of the lord in all circumstances.
But if I trust God during the good times, I need to trust him in the bad too. Whatever you’re going through, he is able and just to walk you through it. Yeah, he could deliver you, (and he might) but sometimes you gotta go through the fire.
The fire purifies and cleanses. That is why we go through trials in our lives. God uses them to make us better people and to teach us that he is trustworthy.
4 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stay true to the Lord. I love you and long to see you, dear friends, for you are my joy and the crown I receive for my work.
2 Now I appeal to Euodia and Syntyche. Please, because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement. 3 And I ask you, my true partner, to help these two women, for they worked hard with me in telling others the Good News. They worked along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are written in the Book of Life.
4 Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! 5 Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.
The Joy of the Lord Is Your Strength
I wrote above that I was recently let go from my job, and normally people are sad when that happens. However, for me, I became extremely excited. it was like the monkey on my back was removed, and I could breathe again.
A new joy entered my heart, and I realized that I’d been living in a toxic space for way too long.
The Joy of the lord is like that, usually, you won’t know it’s missing until you get it back. Then you will never want it to leave. It also gives a nice boost to whatever you’re doing.
It’s like having the creator of the universe right next to you, directing and guiding you. Which essentially is 100% true. When you follow Jesus, he’s always there with you.
And in Philippians 4, his Joy becomes your strength.
How can you lose Joy?
Being a Christian, and focusing on pleasing God should keep you full of Joy. In a perfect world, that’s all you’d need to look for. However, in our lives, we have lots of distractions and shiny objects that drag our attention away. Philippians 4 talks about 2 women in a dispute, this alone shows us that distractions are prevalent.
They both worked with Paul spreading the gospel, but for some reason had no love for their neighbor. I’ve been in the same boat, and Philippians 4 is still convicting me about it.
Life has been a giant worry, I’m trying to make sure my bills are paid, and I’m writing more. But I also need to balance that out with family obligations, and any side jobs that I’m doing.
I lose Joy when I stop focusing on God. We are leaky people, God pours into us, but it leaks out like a sieve. There’s nothing we can do to prevent the Joy from leaking out.
However our proximity to others can have a good effect, and I think that’s the point.
The joy of the lord is your strength. If you’re feeling a bit low on that today. Find some time with him and get filled up. Maybe read Philippians 4 a couple of times through as well. Sometimes it’s the only way to get through.
Philippians 4 Pray and Stop Worrying
6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. 9 Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.
Learning To Trust In God
I’ve quoted this verse to myself so many times. I love this quote about worry:
Worrying is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do, but you aren’t going anywhere.
When we stop trusting in God, we’re telling him that he’s not enough. We are saying I can do this on my own, you don’t have the power to help me, so I’ll figure it out.
Funnily enough, when things don’t work out, we blame God for failing us.
If you’re going to be a Christian, you have to hear God’s voice. And once learn that you’ll be able to trust him so much more.
Trust takes time to build, but we also need to let go of our thoughts and plans. I can’t tell you how many times God has told me something, and I build an elaborate process on the entire premise.
Of course, it has never turned out that way, and usually, I get very angry at God. I tell myself that he didn’t come through. When in reality, I’m angry at God because he didn’t follow my plan. His plan is simply put in the bible, and Philippians 4 does a great job of giving the gist of it.
When did I become the ruler of the universe? Did I suddenly receive the give of seeing the future? Because it’s better that everything is in the hand of God.
Philippians 4 Paul’s Thanks for Their Gifts
10 How I praise the Lord that you are concerned about me again. I know you have always been concerned for me, but you didn’t have the chance to help me. 11 Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.
12 I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. 13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. 14 Even so, you have done well to share with me in my present difficulty.
15 As you know, you Philippians were the only ones who gave me financial help when I first brought you the Good News and then traveled on from Macedonia. No other church did this. 16 Even when I was in Thessalonica you sent help more than once. 17 I don’t say this because I want a gift from you. Rather, I want you to receive a reward for your kindness.
18 At the moment I have all I need—and more! I am generously supplied with the gifts you sent me with Epaphroditus. They are a sweet-smelling sacrifice that is acceptable and pleasing to God. 19 And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.
20 Now all glory to God our Father forever and ever! Amen.
God is the Focus, Regardless of What You Have
In Philippians 4 we are taught to be content with what we have, and that’s difficult in American society today when all we want is more things.
This chapter is definitely for me today. I just got out of a time of plenty. I was able to give and help other people and organizations. But now I’m jobless, but I’m still happy.
I honestly believe the amount you give doesn’t matter, it’s the fact that you did.
One of the things I do when I get too obsessed with my finances is to give more. The opposite of greed is to give. So whenever I feel uptight, like I’m holding onto my wallet for dear life. I realize that it’s time for God to make a change in my heart.
So I release the wallet and let things go, hopefully blessing someone else in the process.
Philippians 4 Paul’s Final Greetings
21 Give my greetings to each of God’s holy people—all who belong to Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me send you their greetings. 22 And all the rest of God’s people send you greetings, too, especially those in Caesar’s household.
23 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
Philippians 4 has a lot of great nuggets of truth in it. I need to come back and do some more digging, because I know there’s more. With my writing today, I tried to stick with what God has been teaching me lately.
I will leave you with this, Trust God, and get along with your Christian brothers and sisters. That is the summary of Philippians 4. And when you do that, you’ll stay filled with the joy of the lord.
Sterling grew up in the suburbs of Minneapolis. As a kid he loved skateboarding but mostly did street riding. He injured his ankle badly when he dropped into his first half pipe. His skateboarding slowed down after that, but he still loved the sport.
While in his 20's he needed to make a change, so he did some world traveling with a motivational speaking group. Through it all, he visited 46 states and 3 continents and eventually lived in Mississippi. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina tore through the state. He jumped into the fray, helping mobilize support for the evacuees of New Orleans & The Gulf Coast. During the aftermath he helped run a shelter and drove food & medical supplies to affected areas by truck. Currently he lives in Minneapolis, runs his snowboard shop, and shreds Vail Whenever he can.