In Philippians 4, Paul gives a final summary of the chapter of Philippians, reinforcing what he has to say and giving us important verses to live by. Paul thanks the Philippians for being a steadfast church, one that has provided him with unbridled support, even sending Epaphroditus, whom Paul describes as ‘a brother, co-worker and fellow soldier’; as a representative of the church to show love and concern for Paul.
Paul reminds us to ‘rejoice in the Lord always.’ (Philippians 4:4), and to leave everything up to God. The key, guiding verse within this chapter is:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
This verse is of particular significance to me as it has carried me through rough times – it is a biblical and explicit confirmation of the fact that God is constantly looking out for us, and that he cares for each individual that takes up the cross and follows him. He hears our prayers and gives us peace, and provides for us even in the hardest of times. Through trials and tribulations, and when everything seems dull and impossible, he provides us with a stroke of hope and clarity. As our shepherd, his rod and his staff will forever comfort us, according to Psalm 23.
Furthermore, we are to associate ourselves and meditate upon ‘whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, and whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy.’ This means cutting out the bad influences in our lives – whether it be friends and acquaintances who often gossip, slander and talk others down in a futile attempt to elevate themselves, and eliminating unpure and lustful thoughts which might arise in our heads. We are to keep a constant lookout to guard ourselves against evil, and this can be done through steadfastly meditating on God.
Perhaps one of the most personal and impactful verses of this passage is Paul’s emphasis that ‘I can do all things through him who gives me strength’ (v 13). This point further ties back to Chapter 3. Just like Paul, we are to eliminate our reasons for having ‘confidence in the flesh’ – being confident because we have wealth and because you have attended bible studies or Sunday School for much of your life on a superficial level does not improve our relationship with Christ. Rather, we are to concentrate on how Jesus suffered, died, and was resurrected in order to give us confidence, in order to bridge the gap between man and God. A God who loves us this much will certainly give us motivation to do all things, and the ability to carry on.