7 Secrets to Being Made Whole

encouragement freedom in christ


The book of Philippians is one of four epistles written by the apostle Paul while he was imprisoned. While these chapters are filled with so much life, freedom, and liberation, they were written by Paul at a time when he was not experiencing any of these things physically but all of them spiritually. 

Paul wrote this letter to his fellow believers in Christ, the church, in Philippi who had been loyal sources of practical support to him. In contrast to some of Paul’s other letters, this one is extremely personal and is, in essence, a thank you letter straight from Paul’s heart, full of encouragement to strengthen them in the knowledge that true joy comes from God and God alone. While this book was written for believers at that time, the truths contained are evergreen and there is much to glean and apply for us today.

In this short book, Paul uses the words “joy” and “rejoice'' 16 times. He also lays out the secret to contentment in any situation as well as the 4 thieves of joy in our lives. He covers a lot of ground in regards to practical explanations and applications for how we are to walk out our Christian lives as well as tackles some of the toughest topics out there, like prayer, suffering, anxiety, setting our minds, living like Christ, and more. While there are countless takeaways from this book as a whole, today, we’re going to focus only on chapter 4 where we find 7 secrets to wholeness, all of which lead us into a singleness of mind that produces a victory that can never be found in this world—a special gift reserved for God’s children. Let’s discover how to know God in our lives, in our minds, as our goal, as our strength, and as our joy—no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in.

1. Stand Firm

Therefore, my beloved brothers and sisters, whom I long to see, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved.  Philippians 4:1

Paul begins his letter with a beautiful greeting, instructing the hearer to stand firm. This command echoes Ephesians 6 where Paul goes into great detail explaining how we can be enabled to stand firm against the schemes of the enemy. In it, he details, piece by piece, the full armor of God with each piece crucial to put on daily if we want to have victory against our enemy. 

“Stand firm” comes from the Greek word steko (G4739). It’s a military term that refers to standing fast and holding your ground. Paul knew the battle he, and his brothers and sisters in Christ, were facing, the same battle we face as well. In this battle, it is imperative that we stand firm. What a beautiful reminder that we too should greet each other with the encouragement and reminder to stand firm in this battle we find ourselves in.

2. Rejoice Always

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all people. The Lord is near.  Philippians 4:4-5

The idea of rejoicing occurs more than 16 times in the short book of Philippians, a letter written by a man facing tremendously horrible circumstances, and yet, he had joy. It’s easy to wonder how Paul could possibly have had any joy, knowing what he was going through. Let’s take a look at what this word means so we are not confused by what it doesn’t mean! It’s so easy to chalk this word up to an emotion we feel in our soul, instead of something we know and experience in our spirit. You see, Paul’s joy wasn’t based on how his circumstances made him feel. He wasn’t merely attempting to be optimistic, or simply putting on a positive attitude, the fact was, Paul was not ruled by how he felt in his soul, but rather, what he knew to be true in his spirit. Paul’s confidence was in the fact that God was present and in control no matter what he was facing and he rejoiced in that. 

“Rejoice” is the Greek word chairó (G5463), but has a direct connection to the word charis, the Greek word for “grace” (G5485). Rejoice means to delight in God's grace; literally, to experience God's grace (favor), or be conscious (glad) for His grace. In our blog post Help in our Time of Need, we took a deep dive into this word and learned all about what grace really means and that to understand this word more completely we must know that it includes these two incredible facets:

  1. God freely extends to give Himself away to people because He is always leaning toward them.
  2. This word for “grace” answers directly to the Old Testament Hebrew term, kaná  (Strong’s H2580) which refers to God freely extending Himself (His favor, grace), reaching (inclining) to people because He is disposed to bless (be near) them.

The world encourages us to listen to our feelings, and while our feelings are important and very much God-given, they were not given to us to be our guiding force, nor the determining factor of what we deem to be true, right, and good in our lives. We are to have faith in the facts of the Word of God; it is Him that we are to hold onto. The surprising thing is that, in time, our feelings will get in line with the facts we believe and hold onto, and that’s what we want, we want our feelings to be followers of truth, not leaders of truth. 

Rejoicing is not a result of how we feel about our circumstances, but rather who God will be to us in our circumstances. Paul knew that even at his darkest hour here on this earth his Heavenly Father was inclined to be near him and that whenever he called out to God, God was already leaning toward him, just waiting to bless him. I don’t know about you but that’s something to always be rejoicing about!

3. Don’t Worry

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and pleading with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:6:7

Here Paul gives a command, “Don’t be anxious about anything,” and then he lays out the plan of action to experience it. Again, word definitions are critical to understanding what is being said here. 

“Be anxious about” is the Greek word merimnaó (G3309), and it comes from the word mérimna (G3308), which means to be drawn in opposite directions, divided into parts, or pulled apart in different directions. This word tells us that we are to effectively distribute concern, in proper relation to the whole picture.

So, what directions do we get pulled in that create anxiety for us? The answer to this takes us back to what we learned in the section on rejoicing: How we feel in our soul, and what we know to be true in our spirit, can divide us. Anxiety will be our experience when our feelings lead us away from the facts and the promises we have in God. Our emotions have the ability to completely distort our concern on a matter by inhibiting us from seeing the whole picture that we as believers, who have a spirit alive to God, can see through faith. And, our faith is to be rooted in the Word of God and His promises. That’s why after Paul tells us not to be divided, or pulled in different directions, he tells us to first go to God in prayer and with thanksgiving and gratitude for all God has already done, let Him know our concerns and requests. Paul goes on to tell us that when we do that, something will happen. He tells us that instead of being anxious (divided and pulled in two directions), we will experience peace that we won’t even understand because God will guard our hearts and minds. In other words, we will no longer be pulled in two directions, but rather have our eyes fixed on Jesus the Author and Perfector of our faith, (Hebrews 12:2). In Jesus we are made whole.

4. Set Your Mind

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, think about these things. As for 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.  Philippians 4:8-9

This is another verse with an instruction and a promise. We will experience the peace of God when we set our minds on the things Paul listed in the verse above, as well as leading a life that reflects the life and teachings of Jesus, the life Paul lived as an example to us. Again, keeping with the theme of this book, we as believers face an immense battle within our minds, constantly pulled in two directions: what we feel vs. what we know. Experiencing peace in the midst of a crisis may feel impossible but the truth is it isn’t. In fact, it is a unique and precious gift that only God’s children can experience; it is something that separates us from the unbelieving world and can be one of our greatest means of testimony to others. 

Paul says, that first, we are to set our mind on 8 specific things, whatever is:

  1. True
  2. Honorable
  3. Right
  4. Pure
  5. Lovely
  6. Admirable
  7. Excellent
  8. Worthy of praise

Next, Paul tells us that when we do that, we will experience peace. The word “peace” that’s used here is eiréné (G1515), and it means wholeness. This tells us that we will not be divided or pulled in two different directions, but rather, be made whole. When we set our minds on these things all essential parts are joined together and we will experience peace, God's gift of wholeness.

5. Be Content 

Not that I speak from need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with little, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.  Philippians 4:11-13

Paul says that whether he had a lot or a little, was fed or hungry, or experienced abundance or suffering, he was content. Is that your experience? It has certainly not always been mine. 

It is so easy to see how doubt can arise when we face difficult, depressing, despairing times. We can read verses like this and throw our hands up in hopelessness, feeling that these things just don’t apply to us, that we tried but God failed us, or we beat ourselves up for the fact that we are caught in the tornado of our own emotions. It’s why diving into Scripture, searching out the meaning of words, and seeking the divine revelation from the Holy Spirit is the only way to make sense of things. 

“Content” is the Greek word autárkēs (G842), and it comes from the Greek word autárkeia (G841), which means content in the sense of being satisfied because of living in God's contentment, or fullness. It is an inward sufficiency that is as valid in "low times" (suffering) as in "high times" (temporal prosperity). This contentment regardless of circumstances only comes through the indwelling power of Christ. It is entirely God-produced. This is why after Paul shares his experience he says, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (vs. 9) Paul knew the secret: it wasn’t him doing it. No matter if times were easy and great or depressing and hard, he made a choice to set his mind on God and all the things he knew to be true about Him, and that allowed him to receive the blessed promises of God’s peace, joy, and strength in every situation.

When you are in the low or high times of life, know that it’s not your contentment that needs to be mustered up. You cannot positively affirm yourself enough or look at the glass as half full enough to ever experience the gift Paul is talking about here. Contentment in any circumstance does not come from within ourselves. One of the greatest realizations of life is that we don’t have what it takes. This world is not our home, and we are done without Jesus. Our spirits are beautifully aligned with the truth of God’s Word, no matter how we feel, and it is our only means of wholeness.

6. Do Unto Others

You yourselves also know, Philippians, that at the first preaching of the gospel, after I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving except you alone; for even in Thessalonica you sent a gift more than once for my needs. Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek the profit which increases to your account. But I have received everything in full and have an abundance; I am amply supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you have sent, a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.  Philippians 4:15-18

Here we see Paul’s gratitude to the Philippians for the care they had provided him. They took action and lived their love for Paul in practical ways. This verse shadows Matthew 7:12, “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” 

Paul proceeds to tell the Philippians that what they did for him, their practical love and support to him, was “a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.” How we treat others matters; it matters to them and it matters to God. In fact, God receives our acts of love and practical care for others as a sacrifice to Him and it pleases Him very much. 

7. Depend on God

And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:19

Yet again, here we find Paul encouraging us to take our eyes off our circumstances and trust that God is, in fact, everything He says He is. For anyone reading this who is lacking anything that you need right now, speak this promise loud and clear over yourself and your life, repeat it whenever your emotions want to pull you in another direction, a direction away from the truth of God: “My God will supply all my needs, not according to what I have, but according to what He has.” And what doesn’t He have, my friend?! You are provided for by your Father and His riches.

The word “supply” is pleroo (G4137), meaning to fill to individual capacity. That means God will make whole, your unique needs. He is your Jehovah Jireh.


In closing, I pray that the truths of Philippians chapter 4 will lead you into the fullness of God and the victory we are promised as His children who are living in this broken world (victory sometimes over our own thoughts and emotions). We were not meant to live divided in our minds, pulled in different directions. In Christ, we have steadfastness, fullness, and the wholeness we so desperately need; wholeness that can withstand any circumstance we may face. Though your emotions may swirl, stand firm, stay rooted, and set your mind on Jesus. 

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.  Ephesians 3:17-21


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Podcast episode 94 - Taking Thoughts Captive + The Spirit of Fear + Finding Freedom with Mitch Griffin

Podcast episode 02 - What You Focus On


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