Introduction: Let’s play some Bible trivia. Where in the Bible do you find these verses?
- Rejoice in Lord always
- Don’t be anxious about anything but pray about everything
- I have learned to be content in any & every cirircumstace
- I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me
- My God will supply all your needs out of the riches of His glorious grace
They are all in Philippians 4. This is the chapter that tells us how to be an uplifter. In Guideposts Magazine Donald Vairin of Oceanside, California, told of serving as a young hospital corpsman in the invasion of Guam during World War II. Suddenly his boat came to a grinding halt. They had hit a coral reef, and the commanding officer ordered everyone off the ship. Donald jumped into the ocean and sank like a rock, his carbine rifle, medical pack, canteen, and boots dragging him down. He forced himself to the surface, gasping for air, only to sink again. He tried to pull off his boots, but the effort exhausted him, and he suddenly realized he wasn’t going to make it. Just then he saw a man thrashing in the water next to him, and in desperation he clutched onto him. That proved enough to hold him up and get him to the reef where he was picked up by a rescue boat. But Donald felt so guilty about grabbing the drowning man to save himself that he never told anyone what had happened. About six months later on shore leave in San Francisco, he stopped in a restaurant. A sailor in uniform waved him over to sit with him, and as he did so he announced to his friends, “This is my buddy. He saved my life.”
“What are you talking about?” asked Donald.
“Don’t you remember,” said the man. “We were in the water together at Guam. You grabbed on to me. I was going down, and you held me up.”
Paul and the Philippians were holding each other up; and that’s what we, too, are called to do and to be. As uplifters, we need:
1. Consistency (v. 1) – Compare this verse with Philippians 1:27. We get the idea that Philippians 1:1-26 is an extended personal introduction, and that Paul doesn’t start the body of the letter until 1:27: Conduct youselves in a manner worth of the Gospel… Stand firm…. That theme of “standing firm” unfolds through chapters 2 and 3, and Paul ends the body of the letter in 4:1: Therefore, my brothers…that is how you should stand firm. The remainder of the book is an extended personal conclusion. If the body of the letter is bookended, then, by 1:27 and 4:1, the theme of Philippians is “standing firm.” This is a military term in the Greek, indicating that we are not to abandon our posts during combat. We must remain faithful and consistent in both our beliefs and practices.
2. Congeniality (v. 2-3) – I wish I could have been a fly on the wall in these verses, because I’m curious about the cause of the conflict between these two women. We’ll all witnessed lots of church conflicts. But we can’t uplift others if we’re estranged from them. We’ve got to learn to be congenial even if we don’t always get our way. This is the application of the teaching in chapter 2 about being like-minded.
3. Composure (v. 4-9 – This passage is Paul’s definitive treatment of worry and anxiety, just as Christ had addressed the subject in Matthew 6. We can only uplift others if we ourselves are composed and at peace. This is as close as the apostle ever came to giving a series of “steps” or “bullet points.” The outline seems very clear to me. The way to have inner peace (the peace of God and the God of peace) is to:
A. Rejoice in the Lord
B. Be Gentle
C. Practice the Lord’s nearness
D. Don’t worry, but pray about everything with thanksgiving
E. Think about and meditate on God’s Word, which is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable.
4. Contentment (v. 10-20) – In this section, Paul is responding to the financial gift sent by the Philippians through Epaphroditus. He reassures them that he is grateful for the gift and it has met his needs, although he has learned to be content whatever the circumstances, for he has learned he can do all things (even be content in poverty and in prison) through Christ. Because of the Philippians’ generosity, he said, God would supply their every need.
5. Christ (v. 20-23) – The book of Philippians ends with a doxology and a blessing. We can be uplifters because Christ has lifted us. He is our all-sufficient Savior. “Once it was the blessing; now it is the Lord.”
Conclusion: There’s an old song that says, “I was sinking deep in sin, far from the peaceful shore, / Very deeply stained within, sinking to rise no more; / But the Master of the sea heard my despairing cry, / From the waters lifted me, now safe am I.” We’ve been uplifted to be uplifters.