The final sixteen verses of the book of Philippians are more, much more, than just the closing lines of a letter. This passage begins with “Finally” (4:8) and ends with “Amen” (4:23), but what powerful lessons there are between those words – powerful lessons, and we will focus our minds on that word “power.” This inspired text has the potential to make you and me more grateful and more committed followers of our Savior. What power do we see in the text of Philippians 4:8-23?
- The power of good thinking – “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whateverthings are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things” (4:8). Our service to the Lord all begins in one place – the heart. What kind of person am I? That all depends on the kind of heart I have. If we get our heart right, God will use that heart to bear fruit for His glory. Sometimes we speak about getting back to the basics. There is nothing more basic than guarding our heart and keeping it set on good things. The Master said that a good man does good things that come from the good treasure in his heart (Luke 6:45). Believe it: good thinking is powerful!
- The power of a good example – “The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you” (4:9). In a world of proud, living-by-the-lusts-of-the-flesh people, we need good examples. Paul is one such person. Think about how a congregation would be rejuvenated by making a commitment to imitate Paul as he imitated the Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1). You and I may not be in the headlines of the news or be well-known outside of our local church, but we can let our line shine and be a godly example in the little corner of the world where we reside (Matthew 5:16). We can demonstrate faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love (2 Peter 1:5-7). Never underestimate the value and power of a good example. What you and I do and say just may be the difference in whether or not another person is turned off or turned on to the message of the gospel.
- The power of contentment – “. . . I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content . . . Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need” (4:11,12). These statements are part of a context in which Paul refers to the material support that the Philippian church had extended to him. There had been times when he was lacking the basic necessities of life, while on other occasions his blessings were overflowing. Regardless of Paul’s circumstances, what occurred? Paul learned to be content. Boy, do a whole lot of people in our generation need to receive that education. Paul did not feel that the world or society owed him something. Neither should we. Paul said that he had a genuine contentment “everywhere” (4:12), that is, regardless of where he lived or what his material conditions were. Genuine contentment comes from being in the right relationship with the Lord, not from material stuff or geographic location.
- The power of the Godhead – Perhaps the most well-known statement in the entire book of Philippians is, “I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me” (4:13). In the context, Paul is writing about what he has experienced in either lacking daily necessities or having an abundance of material things. He had been in distress (4:14), but the Lord supplied his needs through the saints in Philippi. He went on to say, “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (4:19). What a powerful God we serve, a God Who cares about our daily lives and supplies all that we need.
- The power of working together – Paul was preaching (4:15). Part of the time, he was in distress (4:14). The church at Philippi cared and shared a gift with him (4:15-18). In the process, Paul kept on preaching. Some folks obeyed the gospel – that was the fruit of the apostle’s preaching. But, you see, it was the Philippians’ fruit, too (4:17). Paul worked for the Lord. The Philippians worked for Him, too. They financially supported Paul as he preached, and by doing such, they worked together. There is great power in teamwork, especially when all we care about is serving for His glory and do not care who gets the credit for anything good that might happen.
- The power of the gospel – When Paul sent his final greetings from where he sat in chains in Rome, he included a special greeting from “those who are of Caesar’s household” (4:22). Multiple people inside the emperor’s palace were members of the church of God! Whether they were his family members, cooks, servants, or slaves, this truth is undeniable: the gospel had touched the lives of people who were part of the daily activities of the powerful Roman ruler. Brothers and sisters, the gospel is powerful. It changes lives and eternal destinies. The gospel saves souls in cases that we might be tempted to label as “a waste of time.” Do you not love the power seen in Philippians 4:8-23?
— Roger D. Campbell