I’ve written about this verse before (see All Things ), but I think it is a topic which is so important that it should be shared again. A friend reminded me of the verse this week, and I’ve been musing on it a lot.
Instead of looking at just that verse, I want to look at the whole passage because the context is, as always, vitally important to understand the true meaning and gain the depth and encouragement which is waiting to be sought out.
You’ve probably heard what Paul writes, in Philippians 4:4-7, many times before: ‘Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.’
Paul explains how rejoicing continually, praying, and requesting in gratitude will hurry away your fears, and God’s incomprehensible peace will come upon you.
Paul then gives the example of his life and how, using what he wrote about in verses 4-7, he has learnt to be content in all things. He explains to the church in Philippi, ‘…I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. ‘ Philippians 4:11-12 (my own italics)
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Paul isn’t just talking about physical needs here, but the emotional and spiritual pressures that afflicted him often.
Did you catch that order of events? There’s a sequence here: First, comes the prayer and rejoicing, then Paul shows how he has applied it, giving the example of his life and contentment and, finally, the wonderful truth that he, and we too, can do all things through Christ who strengthens us so dearly.
(Philippians 4:4-7 is one of my favourite passages in all of Scripture, and I’ve also written about it before, you can find that blog post here Rejoice!)