Philippians 4:9 “The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.“
I do things as they were done in scripture to please God, connect with Him more, and bring about good in my life. I’ve grown into doing things I’ve read the Apostles did, from praying during the hours of prayer to observing the sabbath. These aren’t things necessarily commanded to do, but it’s something I’ve chosen to do for the purposes I noted. As I was thinking of more things to do, I remembered the verse above. I asked myself, what things did the Philippians see in Apostle Paul that they practiced and thus the God of peace was with them?
Paul visits Philippi
A good place to begin finding that answer would be in Acts 16. This chapter is when Apostle Paul, along with Silas, visited Philippi. We can look to what Apostle Paul did there for possible answers to what the Philippians would see in him to practice. The first thing that stood out to me was his act of going out to pray. Verse 13 states, “And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to a riverside, where we were supposing that there would be a place of prayer; ” A simple act and perhaps a simple reminder of the importance of prayer.
There he would speak to a group of women at the place they went. Their hearts were opened by the Lord through his words, and they proceeded to baptize them. Afterwards they stayed at their house. One can wonder what conversations may have been had during this time period. I think it says something warm about Paul that he chose to spend more time with these people after he helped them begin their journey of faithfulness to the Lord. An act that can be followed in our own actions with helping others in their faithfulness to the Lord.
Practicing confident belief
As the chapter continues, a slave woman with a spirit of divination that caused her to do fortune telling, which her masters profited from, followed Apostle Paul as he and the others were going to the place of prayer. She kept shouting he was proclaiming the way of salvation for days, and Apostle Paul was “greatly annoyed”. I kind of chuckle thinking how even our spiritual leaders in scripture get annoyed sometimes. Perhaps an example for us maybe, but jokes aside, of course we should always strive for patience with people. One could perhaps argue that’s illustrated here because it took Apostle Paul days before he was annoyed.
But this verse stands out, “But Paul was greatly annoyed, and turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her!” And it came out at that very [h]moment.” So here the Philippians see in Apostle Paul’s example a confidence in commanding things in the name of Jesus Christ. Now whether that example is illustrative of practicing removal of bad spiritual forces through commands in the name of Jesus, that’s debatable. But the Philippians perhaps see a confident belief exemplified by Paul in seeing him believe in the power of God to do things we ask.
Commitment in difficult circumstances
The masters were mad about losing what they could profit from, and had Apostle Paul and Brother Silas beaten and jailed.
(Imagine a time you were in pain. Maybe not from being beaten with rod, but some kind of pain that made you feel really low. Think of a situation in your life that you feel like was your version of being jailed. How did you respond to that? Did you focus on God less? Did you pray less?)
Well what Apostle Paul did was the opposite of what we at times do in tough moments in our life. Acts 16:25 states, “But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God,“. Apostle Paul here is committed to prayer and praise of God even in the most painful and difficult of circumstances. And we see God rewarding this commitment to Him in the next verse when the doors were opened and the chains were unfastened by an earthquake. That’s an example we see in Apostle Paul’s actions we can practice ourselves and be rewarded for.
Paul helps the jailer believe in Christ
As the story continues, the Philippian jailer woke up, saw the door, and was going to kill himself thinking they escaped. But they were there, and as he was in fear and trembling leading them out, he would ask them how to be saved. Paul told him and his household to believe in the Lord Jesus and they baptized them. Note that it does not say they had believed until after they had been baptized. So the Philippian jailer sees in Paul to make sure to baptize people so they can rejoice in having believed as well.
After the chief magistrate’s policeman told the jailer to tell Paul and Silas to leave, Paul said he refused to go. They had to be begged to leave, and after entering the house of Lydia and encouraging the people there they departed. This is maybe another example here the Philippian people perhaps saw in Apostle Paul being encouraging, that they were to be encouraging to each other.
Suffering for Christ’s sake
In the letter to the Philippians, Apostle Paul also details a few times himself what He wanted them to see in him to practice in themselves when he was there. Philippians 1:29-30 states, “29 For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, 30 experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me.”
Think about what they remember seeing. They remembered seeing him face opposition from people, being beaten by people, and then eventually jailed. Now does the same conflict mean the exact same suffering Paul went through? Well we have no details in scripture of that having been the case that I’m aware of, so perhaps being willing to suffer conflict from people because of our faith is the main point here. There are other things he mentions for them to follow after his example that you can read for yourself in Philippians.
This is unrelated to the topic, but really important to pay attention to. Note that the verses that follow in the next chapter after the one we just discussed (remember, this wasn’t originally divided in chapters, this was one whole letter), Paul emphasizes the body of Christ to be of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose together. We suffer enough as it is in conflict with people against us promoting Christ, why should we suffer more by our own disunity?
Peace to you all in Christ.