And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
We could call Paul’s letter to the Philippians – Lessons in Lockdown! He is under house arrest in Rome with limited access and a definite curtailing of movement. For a man on a mission characterised by extensive travel and mobility this was surely demanding. To be isolated and cut off from fellow believers brings particular challenges. A word of encouragement from someone who had these real experiences would be more than helpful. Paul is our man! The whole four chapters are full of what really matters to Paul. Well actually, Who really matters?
We are left in no doubt that Jesus Christ is all in all to the apostle. He mentions him 45 times in just 4 chapters. Jesus Christ fills the mind, heart and soul of Paul. No lockdown can limit Paul’s appreciation or enjoyment of his relationship with the Lord Jesus. The great reality of his life is “for me to live is Christ…” 1:21. The grand goal of his life is “knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” 3:8 Deepening his relationship with Jesus was a daily devotion that proved to be the delight of his life. Perhaps lockdown gave him more time for that noble quest. His glorious hope was one day to “be with Christ, which is better by far.” 1:23
He encourages the whole church in Philippi to see his lockdown and captivity as an encouragement to advance the gospel and to be bold and courageous in their witness.
He also encourages them to rejoice in the Lord and learn the lesson of contentment. One writer calls this a “rare jewel”. But when we cultivate contentment for ourselves and have seen it shine in others we know its hidden secrets and joys are immeasurable. It’s not easy to be content. That’s why Paul says he has “learned the secret of being content.” It’s like being in the school of experience and modelling his Master, Jesus, who’s genuine contentment came from obedience and delighting to do the Father’s will.
Paul closes the letter with a great promise based on his experience and confidence in “my God” who would provide not the leftovers of his wealth but his “glorious riches in Christ.” The inexhaustible store of the treasures of the person, work and continuing ministry of Christ are at the disposal of His people. Everything was “in Christ” for the Philippian believers and so it is for us. All Christians are united and joined to Jesus. We receive by faith all the benefits of the gospel in Jesus Christ. Lockdown does not separate us from Jesus or cut us off from the abundant provision of grace and peace in Him. 1:2, 4:7 & 23. We may not be able to glory in our present circumstances but we can “glory in Christ Jesus.” 3:3 and patiently persevere as we “press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus.” 3:14
Meirion Thomas, Malpas Road