Never Give Up (Phil. 4:1-23)

Posted: January 31, 2011 in Uncategorized

I’m a lawyer (please don’t hold that against me) and the law values dying words.  There are exceptions to the rules of evidence for a person’s last words because of the deeply held belief that if a person knows they are dying that they will want their last few utterances to be as honest and poignant as possible.

In the letter to the church at Philippi, it is important to remember that Paul is potentially a dying man preaching to those who are potentially about to be persecuted and here is what he has to say:

1.     Put the gospel first (1:1-26)

2.     Focus on the cross every moment of every day (1:27-2:18).

3.     Follow other Christian leaders as they follow Christ (2:19-3:21)

And now,

4.     Never give up the Christian life (4:1-23).

Let’s look at Phil. 4:1-23,

4:1 Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.

2 I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. 3 Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.

4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

10 I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. 11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

14 Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. 15 And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. 16 Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. 17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. 18 I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. 19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. 20 To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.

21 Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me greet you. 22 All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household.

23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

In verse 1, Paul exhorts them like a field commander to troops under fire to “stand firm.”  He reminds them that their response to his proclamation of the Gospel is his true happiness and his “crown” or treasure that will remain with him for eternity.   

Paul then tells the Philippians to rejoice (or be happy) in the Lord (v.4) and not to base how you feel on your present situation.  How many of us, including myself, need to learn that lesson.  As liberal theologian Jurgen Moltmann reminds us, the love of God and our eternity with Him is what can and should drive us. 

In verse 5, Paul asks that they be known for their “reasonableness,” which is a so-so translation.  The NIV reads “gentleness” but this is a really poor translation—the Greek word just means not to be self-centered and jerky but to care for others.

Paul then states “the Lord is near,” by which he means that Jesus is always with us as he promised never to leave us or turn his face from us (Hebrews 13:5).

Paul also remind them not to be “anxious” or stressed but turn instead to prayer whenever we feel the pinch of pressure.  Do you suffer from insomnia? Anxiety? How often do you pray? I’m not selling prayer as a “cure all” but the more time we spend with God, the more we tend to see the things of this world as unimportant as they really are. 

The Gospel is 2 Cor. 5:21 and it only by preaching it to ourselves daily do we have a shot at growth.  We must find mentors and we can never give up for, at the end of time, we will see that there is nothing else but living for Christ.

 Our job at Revolution is to prepare you for that day.

I lately have been truly convicted by this truth.  My doctors tell me that I am in very poor health and could suffer a heart attack or stroke at any moment. 

In one sense, I have always known that God could take me at any moment–only the Lord knows when our lives will come to an end but a doctor looking you in the eyes and telling you that you are teetering on the edge will wake you up.

Justin Clark, Ryan Rolfe and I launched Revolution with the vision of raising the bar.  We told each other that we didn’t care if we drew a big crowd or not but that we were going to challenge whoever showed up to go deeper and serve more passionately. BUT then people began showing up in droves and we are so busy with family, jobs and education that we became content to put on a show for the crowd. 

We are done with putting on the show.

I am in such poor health that these could be my final words and they will not be a bumper sticker slogan.  I won’t to be like Paul and go to my grave fighting like hell for heaven. 

I want to live hard for Christ and die well.  I want to go down swinging.  I want my final words to bring someone to Jesus.  I want my life to matter in an eternal kingdom not just in a finite world of shallow, self-driven vanity. 

What matters to you? What do you want your life to look like when you go to stand before God for judgment?

Time to decide.  Will you fight for heaven? If so, will you fight to the end? I pray you do.

  1. Praying for you, Matt. Seriously.

    Great post.

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