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12. Joyful Living and Giving

Philippians 4:10-23

Day One Study

1. Read Philippians 4:10-23. Slowly re-read Philippians 4:10-13. What caused Paul to rejoice?

2. Describe the overall tone of this passage.

3. In verse 12 Paul uses several pairs of opposites to describe what he has learned. List the pairs here.

Scriptural Insight: Paul makes an interesting comment in verse 12 about living in prosperity. How can he say this? Paul knew firsthand about wealth and privileges that come with being a prominent Pharisee in the Jewish community and also of being a Roman citizen (Acts 22:3-5; 25-29; 26:4-5).

4. What secret had Paul learned and how had he learned it?

Focus on the Meaning: The word content in Greek means “self-sufficient” and independent of others. Paul used this term to indicate his independence of everything but Christ, since Christ was the sole source of Paul’s life (Philippians 1:21; 4:13). This contrasted with the Stoic philosophy (of the day) that used the word “content” to describe a person who impassively accepted whatever came. A Stoic view fostered self-sufficiency to the point that all the resources for coping with life came from within oneself. Paul explained that his sufficiency was in Christ alone, who provides strength to cope with all circumstances. (Life Application Commentary, Philippians, p. 121)

5. What do Paul’s words teach you about contentment?

6. The Greek term for “learned” is used only here in the New Testament. It was an expression used to describe an initiation by experience. What kind of experiences had Paul had? Read the following passages and record your findings.

·         1 Corinthians 4:11-13—

·         2 Corinthians 11:23-29—

7. How could Paul, a prisoner and one who had experienced so many difficulties, possibly be content? See the following passages for hints.

·         2 Corinthians 4:7-10—

·         2 Corinthians 4:16-18—

·         2 Corinthians 12:8-10—

8. Your Joy Journey: In what circumstances do you struggle with being content? Why do you suppose it is such a struggle?

9. Read Habakkuk 3:17-18. What decision did Habakkuk make?

10. Your Joy Journey: What decisions can you make now so that you are prepared to endure those times of struggle?

Day Two Study

11. Read Philippians 4:10-23. Re-read vv.14-19. What do we learn about the Philippian church, and what characteristics do its members demonstrate in this passage?

Scriptural Insight: Paul didn’t always accept aid. In 1 Corinthians 9:11-19 Paul wrote that he had not accepted money from the Corinthian church in order to avoid being accused of preaching only to get money (preaching for the wrong reasons). In fact, while he was in Corinth, the Philippian believers helped him (2 Corinthians 11:9). He accepted their offering because they gave it willingly in order to help Paul.

12. In Philippians 4:17 Paul writes that he is not looking for more “gifts” from the Philippians. Instead he likens their gifts to investments credited to an account. What does he mean by this metaphor? See the following verses for help with your answer.

·         Matthew 6:19-21—

·         Hebrews 6:10—

·         Revelation 22:12—

13. Paul calls their gifts a “sacrifice…to God” (verse 18). In what sense was their gift an offering to God? (See also Hosea 6:6, Hebrews 13:15-16, Ephesians 5:2 for hints.)             

Scriptural Insight: The priest in the Old Testament went into the holy place to put incense on the altar and it ascended with a sweet smell. A Christian in his giving is like a priest making an offering to God. (See Leviticus 7:12-15.) (J. Vernon McGee, Through the Bible Commentary, Philippians, p. 105)

14. The Philippian church was not wealthy (see 2 Corinthians 8:1-4), though they gave with a heart of generosity. What does Paul tell them in Philippians 4:19?

Think About It: All of nature depends on hidden resources. The great trees send their roots down into the earth to draw up water and minerals. Rivers have their sources in the snow-capped mountains. The most important part of a tree is the part you cannot see, the root system, and the most important part of the Christian’s life is the part that only God sees. Unless we draw upon the deep resources of God by faith, we fail against the pressures of life. Paul depended on the power of Christ at work in his life. “I can through Christ!” was Paul’s motto, and it can be our motto, too. (Warren Wiersbe, Be Joyful, p. 137)

15. What is the connection between the first part of today’s passage on contentment with the last part regarding giving?

16. Your Joy Journey: From your study of this passage and the entire letter to the Philippians:

·         What interferes with your believing that God will meet all of your needs? (List them here and replace them!)

·         What helps you believe that God will meet all of your needs? (List them here and refer to them when you need help!)

Related Topics: Curriculum

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