Oh how we look forward to one week from this Sunday! Do we have a greater appreciation for David’s words of Psalm 122:1? I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD.” May we continue to show our joy as we read, study and live the words of God!
Chapter 3 concluded with the reminder that our citizenship is in heaven and we are awaiting our Savior’s return to take us home. Chapter 4 begins with because this is true, be faithful!
Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my dear friends (Philippians 4:1). It is sad how often we take our brothers and sisters for granted. It’s true in our earthly families at times and even more so in our eternal family. Don’t ever neglect them!
Because that is true it is heartbreaking to see two faithful Christians at odds with one another. Paul continues with a plea for help from all the congregation: I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, my true comrade, help these women who have labored side by side with me in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. (Philippians 4:2-3) The responsibility to DO what is right before God is NEVER someone else’s job. Paul could have easily said this to the elders or the preacher or the deacons. But the simple fact is, that job belongs to ALL Christians. You do you is a cute ad for gambling, but YOU do CHRIST is what God expects of us all.
Joy is never far away from God’s people if they truly understand who they are. As Paul writes to those working hard at living the Christian life, he’s called them his joy and crown (verse 1 above) and now calls them (and us all) to rejoice. Show your joy in everything you do as a son or daughter of Almighty God!
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, Rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to every person. The Lord is at hand. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:4-7)
It’s easy for us to feel alone, but the fact that the Lord is near is a reminder given several times. David said it like this: The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth (Psalm 145:18). He is in control, all we have to do is let Him know that we trust Him to do what is best. When we let go and let God take control is when we can enjoy His marvelous peace… no matter what happens to us here on earth!
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me — put these things into practice, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8-9)
Recall Paul’s “finally” of chapter 3. He’s not done yet, but he is calling us to do something from now on! We are all aware of the countless things we have to think about and worry about. Think on or let your mind dwell on these things is actually even more forceful that you count your many blessings. To begin with it’s said as an imperative and secondly, it’s a call for an accounting. The soldiers in Philippi would have heard many times the order to give an accounting for their actions. Paul is, as God is, calling on us to be responsible for much more than just thanksgiving. We are responsible to God for doing all the things true, honorable, righteous, beautiful and worthy of praise and commendation. That’s a LOT of goodness. That’s a call to be holy, like our God is holy in all things. And this needs to be our focus as we give account of our holiness before God.
When we do these things, when this is our lifestyle as saints, then God promises His peace to be with us. It’s ridiculous for us to complain about a lack of God’s peace when we are not giving our all to Him! There’s an old saying (I’ve seen it attributed to at least a couple of different people) that goes like this: Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried. If we lack God’s peace, it is because we have failed to live in holiness.
Paul now turns to some very personal comments to his brothers and sisters in Philippi. They worry about him and he worries about them. But because they share the same Lord, they need to remember that God is taking care of them all. And that calls, no matter how hard it may seem sometimes, for even more joy and thanksgiving!
I rejoice in the Lord greatly that now at last you have revived your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned before, but you had no opportunity. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstance I find myself. I know what it is to be in want, and I know what it is to have an abundance. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret, whether I am well-fed or hungry, have plenty or am in need. I can do all things through the one who strengthens me. However, you have acted nobly, sharing with me in my distress. (Philippians 4:10-14)
Missionaries learn pretty quickly which congregations truly love the Lord and are faithful in supporting the Lord’s work. Nearly every missionary has been assured of love and support from a congregation only to receive nothing. Some congregations even become well known for their promises that are never kept.
And you Philippians know that in the beginning of my gospel ministry, when I left Macedonia, no church joined with me in giving and receiving but you only, for even in Thessalonica you sent something more than once for my need. Not that I seek the gift; rather, I seek the interest that accrues to your account. I have received all I need and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gift you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. And my God will supply your every need according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory for all time. Amen. (Philippians 4:15-20)
Philippi is not one of those churches that fail in their promises! Recall that it was actually the Macedonian churches (of which Philippi is the crown jewel) that gave even in their poverty that Paul would hold up as an example and a challenge to the Corinthian church (cf. 2 Corinthians 8:1-6). Philippi is the congregation that ought to hold their heads high for all they’ve done for the Gospel. We ought to always strive to be like Philippi!
When a congregation acts so as to bring praise to God, you know they are doing what is right. And a congregation that honors God in their deeds is a congregation that is truly a part of God’s family!
Paul concludes with greetings from saints and holy ones to saints and holy ones: Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brothers and sisters who are with me send their greetings to you. All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. (Philippians 4:21-23) But above all else, Paul extends the blessing of God’s grace to be with the family of Christ.
May we lead our lives in such a way that Jesus will always be with us!
—Lester P. Bagley