Good Evening and Happy Monday!
I hope this snowy Monday is going well, for you. Please excuse the lateness of today's email. It's be a busy morning. Nonetheless, I'm happy to be back to Inbox Inspiration after taking a week off from writing while traveling to visit family in Kentucky.
This week, let's talk about one word: enough.
In Philippians 4, Paul discusses his situation with his friends in Philippi, Greece. Paul had established the church at Philippi himself, during his 2nd missionary excursion. (Learn more about that voyage in Acts 16:1-40.) And he writes them this particular letter while incarcerated. Most scholars agree he writes from prison in Rome between 60 and 62 CE.
After addressing divisions in the Philippian church, and tackling theological issues the church was facing, Paul gives the Philippians an update about his personal situation and thanks them for their generosity. This update portion of chapter 4 is the place where we are focusing this week. The fact that Paul writes this from jail is particularly important. So keep that in mind.
Paul tells the Philippian church:
I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. - Philippians 4:11-13 NIV
The Philippian church had a history of looking out for Paul. They'd sent him help when he was in Macedonia and Thessolonica. It even appears that Paul sends this letter to the church by way of an emissary, (Epaphroditus,) they'd sent to deliver help to him while he was in prison in Rome. Paul thanks the church, but he reminds them, "I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances." Skip down a couple of verses and Paul sums up his contentment - even in prison - with one of the most famous verses in all scripture:
I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me - Philippians 4:13 KJV
The NIV says it this way
I can do all THIS through Him who strengthens me.
In other words, from his prison cell, Paul proclaims to the Philippians - a church who has just sent him aide and comfort - "I'm good. Jesus is enough!"
Astonishing! From jail? Not me! I'd be asking "When are you sending Epaphroditus back?" I probably would have sent back a list of "needed items" for them to send to me with the next care package, too!
Not Paul, though. He even turns it up a notch after this. He proceeds to tell the Philippians that not only will God supply his needs in prison, but He will also supply theirs, too! (Philippians 4:19)
This is incredible! Paul asserts that in whatever circumstance, whatever situation he has learned to let go of his desires and let Jesus be enough! He follows up this affirmation with the key to understanding how do to this; how to let Jesus be enough. He reassures his generous friends that God will supply their needs - everything required of them to complete His perfect will. He asserts that Jesus is enough!
Paul doesn't promise these folks cushy lives. If you read the rest of Paul's writing, you know he didn't live a cushy life himself, and neither did many of his Christian contemporaries. He doesn't promise "and my God shall make you rich." He doesn't say "and my God shall give you all that you ever want." He affirms that God is sovereign to supply, yes. But implicit in that affirmation is the truth that if God is sovereign to supply needs, He is sovereign to assess them, too - on His own terms. He knows what we need and He gives it to us according to His own wisdom and His infinite riches.
The hard part for us here is recognizing that God has a better grasp on our needs than we do. So, a huge part of enjoying the supreme sufficiency of God is recognizing our own insufficiency. We have to submit ourselves to the fact that He knows everything about us - even things we haven't learned yet. He assess our needs according to His plan and He meets them. We can be assured as His beloved children, that as He assesses those needs His word says that He will never withhold any good thing - anything that is progressive to His purposes for us - from us if we're walking in His ways, (Psalm 84:11).
As we grow in His grace, we realize that what God has provided to use through Christ is enough. And as we mature in Him we learn to not only accept this fact, but also to be contented by God's glorious sufficiency!
Here are some questions for this week
- What do I think I need?
- Am I "letting" God be enough by deferring to His sovereign perspective?
- When I think about Philippians 4:13 do I only think Christ strengthens me to do stuff I want to do?
- Do I believe my will and God's will always align? If no, which will defines the needs God promises to supply?
- Do I really believe God's going to give me what I need to fulfill my purpose in His will?