But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me has flourished again; wherein you were also careful…
The apostle now turns to his personal relations with the Philippians, and commends them for their considerate and timely liberality in the times of his distress.
I. THE APOSTLE'S JOY IN THEIR LIBERALITY. "But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that at length ye retired your interest in me; in which, indeed, ye did interest yourselves, but ye had no opportunity."
1. There never was a man who more keenly appreciated Christian kindness than the apostle. Self-reliant and jealously independent as he was, his happiness was greatly increased by the thoughtful generosity of his converts. It was in no degree diminished by the fact that his friends had no opportunity of helping him, perhaps because he was far beyond their reach in the sweep of his missionary journeys.
2. Their kindness inspired him with a holy joy. Not because it was in answer to prayer for timely help, but because it typified the true grace of God in his converts. Their liberality was an evidence at once of their personal interest in him and of their Christian standing in the Lord.
II. THE APOSTLE'S CONTENTED SPIRIT. "Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, I know also how to abound. In everything and in all circumstances I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need."
1. What a checkered experience was that of the apostle! He had experience of want and of fullness in his wanderings as an apostle. He was no stranger to hunger.
2. What a happy spirit for such a life! He was content with such things as he had. The poet says -
"Art thou poor?
Yet hast thou golden slumbers, O sweet Content." There is no passage in any writer which depicts a more expansive, a more positively exalted attitude of mind than he describes in this passage as the virtue of content. It is that condition of mind in which nothing can foil the energy of the spirit. It is the quality which, having evoked generosity in others, flows forth in gratitude for that generosity; which, having failed to evoke generosity, manifests itself in submission to disappointment and in patient trust for the future germination of the seed sown.
III. THE TRUE SECRET OF CONTENTMENT. "I can do all things in him that infuses strength into me." This language implies that there is a Divine spring of help in all conditions.
1. Consider the extent of a Christian's ability.
(1) He is able to undergo every trial.
(2) To brave every sort of suffering.
(3) To overcome every variety of temptation.
(4) To perform every duty.
2. Consider the source of the Christian's strength. "In him." By virtue of our vital union with Christ we have access to the true Source of strength. Christ infuses strength into us:
(1) By his teaching.
(2) By his examinee of holy patience and forbearance.
(3) By the moral influence of his death as a reed sacrifice for sin.
(4) By the abundant bestowed of his Holy Spirit.
Thus the believer becomes "strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might."
IV. THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE APOSTLE'S STATEMENT.
(1) It was at once a declaration of experiences and
(2) an expression of gratitude. - T.C.
Parallel VersesKJV: But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.