5 Things I Learned from Philippians
One of my favorite ways to study the Bible is to journal through an entire book. Whether it's a chapter a day or just a few verses, I have found this to be a really effective way for me to study God's Word. Plus, I can tell which books I've read based off of whether I've journaled in them or not! This summer, I studied and journaled through Philippians.
In my small group Bible study during the spring semester, we went through Philippians as a group. This piqued my interest into wanting to study the book verse-by-verse. I've spent a lot of time in this book this year! Here are 5 things I've learned from Philippians:
1: We are to look at every circumstance through the lens of God's kingdom.
"I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ." -Philippians 1:12-13
Paul was in prison when he wrote Philippians, Ephesians, and Colossians. Yet he didn't view his imprisonments as hinderances to his mission. Instead, he took the opportunity to continue to share the gospel, even if he was in a terrible place. He understood that this world was not his home and would not be his demise. The urgency of the Gospel was more important to him than being comfortable.
I can easily get caught up in my goals, so much so that I forget why I'm doing it and who I'm doing it for. By looking at our circumstances through the lens of God's kingdom, we are able to prioritize things in a more Biblical way.
2: God sustains us to have joy in every situation.
"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." -Philippians 4:4-6
When we see our circumstances through God's eyes, we are able to have joy no matter what we face. In this verse specifically, Paul says not to be anxious about anything! Not what to wear, what to major in, when to do laundry, your schedule or financial situation. Having joy in the Lord means understanding that:
Our strength comes from the Lord alone.
God will provide for us--so there is no need to be anxious about what could/should happen.
No matter what, nothing can take away God's grace and love.
God listens to our prayers & cares about our needs/desires.
God's plan will not be "messed up" by our mistakes.
Our joy does not rest in our own abilities or material possessions, it rests in what Christ has already done for us & our identity in him!
3: The Philippian church was significant in Paul's ministry journey.
"I thank God in my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now."-Philippians 1:3-4
This one is more of a fun fact, but the relationship between Paul and the Philippian church is really interesting. If we flip back to Acts 16, we see Paul interact with "the women who has come together" (Acts 16:13). These women were part of the beginning of the Philippian church, and in Philippians, Paul remembers them with gratitude. It is highly likely that they supported Paul through prayer and in some way financially.
Enduring Word Commentary presents Paul's relationship with the Philippian church this way:
"The idea is that the Philippians partnered with Paul in his spreading of the gospel through their friendship and financial support, and they did so from the "first day until now". They didn't wait to see if Paul was a "winner" before they supported him. They got behind Paul and his ministry early."
This observation was especially encouraging to me during this season of my life because I was building support so I could work in ministry this upcoming year. The Philippians couldn't stalk Paul's Facebook to see if he was a superstar Christian. They knew him from how he reflected Christ to them, and trusted that God would use him to spread the Gospel. The process of raising support was so new and nerve wracking; it was a humbling and challenging process. It was easy to feel like I wasn't qualified because I was just beginning to officially work in ministry. Yet, God continued to provide anyway, and taught me so many things along the way.
4: Contentment is something that is learned.
"Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content." -Philippians 4:11
It's easy to put the people in the Bible on a pedestal and think of them as super perfect Christians. But, even the apostles were human too. They made mistakes, but God still used them in significant ways! Paul had to learn to be content, which is not an easy thing to learn. He knew God would provide for him, even when his circumstances seemed hopeless. He knew that whatever God gave would be enough for him.
This is a topic I am studying more in depth with the book "The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry" by John Mark Comer. I just recently finished it, and it was very convicting. Our culture today glorifies materialistic things. My social media is full of shopping tips and organization hacks and clothing hauls, etc. etc. While these things are not bad, they can lead to us looking for things for fulfillment instead of our relationship with Jesus.
How many times have I bought something that I didn't need, but just wanted in the moment? My most recent purchase was Baby Yoda Band-Aids. I didn't need Band-Aids, I have them at home! In reality, there are few things we really need--food, water, shelter, and clothing. We do not need another sweater that is a slightly different color from one we already have. We can be content without it.
Paul had learn to be content; it's not something that comes naturally to us as human beings. This is okay. We are constantly being renewed and growing in our faith. Contentment is something that is learned; it's not a given when you become a Christian.
5: Most of our lives are determined by the state of our minds.
Overall, this was the lesson I learned from Philippians. What we think determines what we believe which determines how we live. As Christ followers, we need to pay attention to what we are feeding our minds throughout the day. If we are distracted and not prioritizing our relationship with Jesus, it's easy to feel lost, alone, and confused. However, if we are actively thinking about Scripture and living with a mission-mindset, we will live more intentionally.
Here are some questions I've been asking myself lately and want to share with you:
What habits are life-giving and help me to think about Christ? What habits are draining?
Why am I doing [insert action, event, habit]? Am I doing this with the intention of glorifying God?
What are ways I can practice being content this week?
Bonus to ask when shopping: Do I really need these cute Band-Aids?
I hope you were encouraged by this post & it helped pique your curiosity about Philippians! Until next time,