Philippians 4: 4-14 – The World of the Text, Part Two

rootedchristI hope you each had a holy start to your Lenten season yesterday with Ash Wednesday.  Let us pray for each other in this season, that through our discipline, we will be drawn closer to the loving embrace of our savior, Jesus the Christ.  Today we’ll pick back up with the World of the Text of Philippians 4: 4-14.

We’ll pick up in verse 8.  In this section, Paul tells us to think on the good things in our lives.  Not to dwell on the negative. This concept of our thoughts is a huge deal for Paul. At one other place in Scripture (2 Corinthians 2:5), Paul tells us to take our thoughts captive.  What this means for Paul is not that our minds won’t race or that we won’t have temptations come across our mind, but Paul is telling us here that we have a choice. Where do our minds linger?  Where do our thoughts go?  Paul is giving us agency here, he is giving us a choice. What do you choose to do with your thoughts?  Where do you choose to allow your mind to go?  Because for Paul, our thoughts will in time determine our actions. Paul over and over again tells us to think on these things.  Tomorrow when we talk about what this means for us today, this passage here may be one of the most important for this time and age.

The last section has within it one of the most taken of our context passages in the Bible.  Philippians 4:13. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  I used to quote this verse to myself when I was a teenager lifting weights.  I can do this!  I got this!  I can do it through Jesus!  Let me first say, that is not bad.  I am not at all condemning using scripture for motivation and clarity.  Let me, once again, be very clear.  I am not saying that is a bad thing.    But, I do want to, for a minute, talk about the context of what is happening.

Paul is talking about his need.  Remember, he is in prison.  While his prison is not the worst in all the world, it’s still prison.  The people are concerned for him, they want to help him.  They want to provide for him. Pau says this, I’ve had a lot, I’ve had nothing.  It’s ok. Don’t worry.  I can do all things through Jesus.  This passage, at its heart, is Paul saying that he doesn’t need a lot.  He’ll survive because he has Jesus.  If he is rich, he’ll be fine, he has Jesus.  If he is poor, he’ll be fine, he has Jesus.  No matter what happens, no matter what comes, he can do it.  He will be fine.  He has Jesus. He can do all things through Christ.  Because Christ will give him strength.  This passage is about being able to make it through difficult times when they come because we have Jesus.  He is our strength, our shield.  Our portion.  Our all in all. If we have Jesus, we have all we need.

So, yeah, we can do all things through Christ.  Today, no matter what circumstance we find ourselves in, we can survive. We can do it.  Because we have Jesus.

Tomorrow we’ll talk deeper about what this passage means to our lives today.

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