Carmel Sermons Resources

Home / Carmel Sermons / Improbable Joy – Philippians 4:14-23

Improbable Joy – Philippians 4:14-23

May 13, 2024
video-link podcast-link

Philippians 4:14-23

Although Philippi was a very poor church, they sent Epaphroditus 800 miles to visit Paul and give him a lavish care package to encourage him. In this conclusion of his letter, Paul writes about this encounter and how it has encouraged him. He says, “yet it was kind of you to share my trouble.” In other words, they participated with Paul.

The word “trouble” comes from the word “thlipsis”, which speaks to the physical pressure on a man. It conveys the idea of being squeezed or placed under pressure or crushed beneath a weight (like olives in an olive press). Paul’s persecution, affliction, distress, opposition, and tribulation all pressed hard on his soul. Paul is grateful to the Philippian church for bearing that burden with him in fellowship. He knows he’s not alone.

Verse 15 makes note that the Philippians were the only ones that entered into partnership with Paul. Paul loves their partnership more than the present that they gave to him, and it put a “pep in his step”. In fact, at this point they have been supporting Paul for 10 years.

Paul is excited for THEM because they gave him a gift. By their monetary gifts, they are storing up an eternal profit for themselves in heaven. Jesus had taught the same in Matthew 6:20. Their gift brought Paul joy not because of its personal material benefit to him, but because of its spiritual benefit to them.

In fact, it has brought pleasure to God Himself (v18). Their giving serves a much higher purpose than simply meeting his needs. It is an act of worship that is being given to God. God’s response is found in verse 19, which reminds us that we are completely dependent on Him, but that He lavishly loves us according to His riches.

Paul’s response (v 20-23) to this gift is an act of worship of God and His grace, which is found throughout his letter. He also encourages the Philippian church to realize that the gospel has spread to Caesar’s household! Paul had led some of the praetorian guards that were assigned to guard him to Christ! They took the gospel back into the palace, and to the large amount of servants in Caesar’s household. The gospel will always spread.

Grace is unmerited, undeserved favor in the lives of God’s people. It is the wellspring and the heartbeat of the Christian life. The believers in Philippi had already received saving grace at the time of their regeneration, but Paul desires that they know more of this sanctifying grace in their Christian walk. This will enable them to live in a manner that glorifies God, and to do so with joy…an improbably joy!

Questions to consider:

  1. Are you a cheerful giver? How is that modeled in your life? Who do you know that gives cheerfully for God’s glory?
  2. Who can you partner with to put a “pep in their step”? Who has been a blessing to you?
  3. Where have you seen someone exhibit “improbably joy” recently?