Reading: Philippians 4:4-13
Philippians is one of my favorite books in the Bible, and this passage is my favorite one in Philippians. We are reminded to guard our hearts and fill them with joy. We’re reminded to be content and to trust in Christ.
Paul was in jail when he wrote these verses. His faith didn’t become this strong overnight; he practiced it over and over, through all the good and bad moments of his life. Every step of his day was an important battle for his soul.
Our lives today aren’t filled with the same hardships that Paul endured. Are we spending our days fighting Christ’s battle, or are we too caught up in our daily pleasures and wants? Are we daily taming our thoughts and emotions, bending them to holiness instead of to sin? Are we building that peaceful trust in our Master, day by day?
The following story is from Tiger and Tom and Other Stories for Boys. The book was published in 1910 and is now in the public domain.
THE BOY AND HIS SPARE MOMENTS
A lean, awkward boy came one morning to the door of the principal of a celebrated school, and asked to see him.
The servant eyed his mean clothes, and thinking he looked more like a beggar than anything else, told him to go around to the kitchen.
The boy did as he was bidden, and soon appeared at the back door.
“I should like to see Mr. Brown,” said he.
“You want a breakfast, more like,” said the servant girl, “and I can give you that without troubling him.”
“Thank you,” said the boy; “I should have no objection to a bit of bread; but I should like to see Mr. Brown, if he can see me.”
“Some old clothes, may be, you want,” remarked the servant, again eyeing the boy’s patched trousers. “I guess he has none to spare; he gives away a sight;” and without minding the boy’s request, she set out some food upon the kitchen table and went about her work.
“Can I see Mr. Brown?” again asked the boy, after finishing his meal.
“Well, he’s in the library; if he must be disturbed, he must; but he does like to be alone sometimes,” said the girl, in a peevish tone. She seemed to think it very foolish to admit such an ill-looking fellow into her master’s presence. However, she wiped her hands, and bade him follow. Opening the library door, she said:–
“Here’s somebody, sir, who is dreadfully anxious to see you, and so I let him in.”
I don’t know how the boy introduced himself, or how he opened his business, but I know that after talking awhile, the principal put aside the volume he was studying, took up some Greek books, and began to examine the new-comer. The examination lasted some time. Every question which the principal asked, the boy answered as readily as could be.
“Upon my word,” exclaimed the principal, “you certainly do well!” looking at the boy from head to foot, over his spectacles. “Why, my boy, where did you pick up so much?”
“In my spare moments,” answered the boy.
Here he was, poor, hard-working, with but few opportunities for schooling, yet almost fitted for college, by simply improving his spare moments. Truly, are not spare moments the “gold dust of time?” How precious they should be! What account can you give of your spare moments? What can you show for them? Look and see.
This boy can tell you how very much can be laid up by improving them; and there are many other boys, I am afraid, in the jail, in the house of correction, in the forecastle of a whale ship, in the gambling house, or in the tippling shop, who, if you should ask them when they began their sinful courses, might answer:–
“In my spare moments.”
“In my spare moments I gambled for marbles.”
“In my spare moments I began to smoke and drink.”
“It was in my spare moments that I began to steal chestnuts from the old woman’s stand.”
“It was in my spare moments that I gathered with wicked associates.”
Oh, be very, very careful how you spend your spare moments! Temptation always hunts you out in small seasons like these when you are not busy; he gets into your hearts, if he possibly can, in just such gaps. There he hides himself, planning all sorts of mischief. Take care of your spare moments. “Satan finds some mischief still for idle hands to do.”
For Further Study:
- Who are your Bible heroes? I can’t think of one that had an easy life. Indeed, it is someone’s ability to overcome trials that makes him a hero, isn’t it? Can you remember what problems these Bible heroes overcame? ~ Noah, Moses, Daniel, Josiah, Peter. The book of Philippians mentions a man by the name of Epaphroditus (2:25, 4:18). His name is only mentioned in this book of the Bible, yet Paul tells us to “hold such men in high regard” (Philippians 4:29). So Epaphroditus should be one of our heroes too. Read Philippians 3:25-30 to find out. What kind of work did he do for the Lord? How well did he do his work? How did he show his love for others? How did his life and attitude show people that God was merciful?
- Philippians 4:8 tells us to put the proper thoughts in our minds so that we can rejoice, even when things are difficult in our lives. Jesus was a great example of this. In Luke 9:51-52, Jesus is preparing to enter Jerusalem, where He will be murdered on the cross. He knows what is about to happen to Him, yet He does not avoid the work that His Father gave Him to do. What made Jesus so brave? What did Jesus think about? Verse 51 says that He thought of His ascension. He wasn’t thinking of being on the cross, He was thinking of the glory that was waiting for Him when He rose to heaven! That is what we can have in our minds also. It will help us trust in God, and bring us peace in this imperfect world.
- What are the things we should dwell on which are listed in Philippians 4:8? Give an example of each of these.