Elder Vernon Johnson

   
 

Philippians 4:10-19

 :10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. 12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

14 Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction. 15 Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. 16 For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity. 17 Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account. 18 But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God. 19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

This passage of scripture deals with the needs of the gospel minister; the church's helping with those needs; and the Lord blessing those who help with those needs.  Let us first deal with the attitude of the gospel minister to receiving material support from the church.  First, we need to learn to be content: Paul said, "for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content."  Throughout history, God-called ministers of the gospel have been in different states in their personal lives.  Some have had to deal with great needs in their personal lives in times of great hardships.  Others have had to deal with abounding goods that lead our minds away from the knowledge that we are poor and needy creatures and that without the Lord we can do nothing.  Paul said that he had been in both conditions: "I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need." 

This statement of Paul can be taken both in a natural sense and in a spiritual sense.  We can suffer great material need and depend on the Lord to move others to supply our need or we can abound with much goods and should be willing to share our bounty with others in need.  Likewise, we are instructed in God's word to know that we are "poor in Spirit."  When we realize we are poor, hell-deserving creatures, then we realize our great need of Christ knowing that it is by his grace we have been delivered from our sins.  Likewise, when we are lifted up in Spirit, we should also realize that we will not always be on the mountaintop in our experiences, but valleys also await us in this life.

We are to be content with whatever condition we find ourselves.  We can be content when we realize that our help comes from the Lord and it is he who strengthens us.  Realizing our strength comes from the Lord, we can then do all things that the Lord would have us to do through Christ which strengthens us.

Next, we consider the position of the church in helping the gospel ministers.  First, it is pleasing to God for the church to supply the needs of the gospel ministers:

    1.  Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction.

    2.  I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God. 

Paul informed the Philippian brethren that their sacrifice in communicating to his needs was wellpleasing to God. He said it was to God an odour of a sweet smell.  In 1 Cor. chapter 9 Paul taught the principle of the church helping those who labor in the gospel.  He taught that it was a joint labor with the gospel ministers and the congregation.  The gospel ministers provided their labors in the word and the church provided material things to the needs of the gospel ministers. 

Notice that Paul said the church at Philippi sent once and again to his "necessity" and to his "affliction."  They did not send to his "wants."  The communicating was not to the "wants" of the gospel ministers, but to the necessities or needs of the gospel ministers. 

Finally, we see where the ability of the church to send to the needs of the gospel ministers comes from: "But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus."  God supplied the needs of the congregation and they in turn assisted with the needs of the gospel minister.  Without God supplying the needs of the congregation, they would have been unable to supply the needs of the gospel minister.  Notice the certainty in which Paul spoke: God "shall" supply all your needs…"  Paul was certain that God would supply the needs of the congregation. 

 

Verses 4:20-23 

:20 "Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen. 21 Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren which are with me greet you. 22 All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar's household. 23 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen."

Again, the scriptures teach us that all glory and praise belongs to God and our Father.  We do not deserve any glory or praise, but God deserves all the glory and praise.  Let us be mindful to continuously give God the glory and praise that justly belongs to Him. 

In this passage, Paul exchanges greetings between the disciples at Rome and the disciples at Philippi.  Sometimes we get caught up in the concerns of our own congregation that we forget about the like needs and struggles that sister congregations are going through.  We should be mindful of the needs, concerns, and joys of our sister churches.

Once again, Paul ends the epistle with the mention of God's grace as he does in all the epistles that he wrote.  Paul opened and closed his epistles with the mention of God's grace and then he frequently spoke of God's grace throughout the epistle.  Certainly the theme of Paul's writings is the grace of God as is all the bible.