Year 3 Day 84
Read - Philippians 4v2-23
Message - Scott Woodburn
Members of the church don't always agree. Sometimes trivial matters get blown up out of all proportion and other times quite weighty matters bring division to the local church. It's nothing new. As Philippians comes to an end Paul urges two ladies to agree in the Lord (v2). We don't know what the issue was between Euodia and Syntyche but it concerned Paul enough for him to urge peace and to ask other members of the church to help these women resolve their difficulties (v3). I suspect there isn't a church in the world that couldn't take time to meditate on these two verses and then strive to put them into practice. Love one another, forgive one another, agree in the Lord for Christ's sake.
With Paul's call for peace stated, the Apostle then commands the Philippians to always rejoice in the Lord (v4). Paul wasn't seeking to belittle these Christians by pretending that their problems were trivial. Instead he wanted them to understand that they were "in Christ". Therefore in any and all circumstances it was possible for the Philippians (and us) to rejoice in the Lord. Sickness, trouble, temptation and trial do not rob us of our status with Christ, therefore brothers and sisters, rejoice.
As the church was to strive for unity in the midst of constant rejoicing, then the church was also to show its reasonableness to everyone (v5). The Lord's return is soon (v5b) therefore we are to present the Gospel in a gentle and reasonable manner. This does not mean the world will suddenly love the Gospel but we have no Biblical mandate to evangelise in a deliberately offensive manner.
The coming of the Lord also causes fear to fly. Paul wanted the Philippians to put away anxiousness and instead pray about everything, bringing requests before the Lord (v6). For the Christian, prayer is not an optional extra but it is one of the ordinary means of grace. We do not "butter-up" the Lord in prayer and we do not come to change His mind. Instead as we pray the Lord sanctifies us and we enjoy a renewed sense of the wonderful peace of God (v7). This peace goes beyond all understanding and it acts like a guard to our hearts and our minds.
Finally, Paul urged the Philippians to set their minds on subjects true, honourable, just, pure, lovely commendable, excellent and praiseworthy (v8). What does this look like in practice? It is better for the Christian to consider the beauty of a star filled sky than for that same Christian to watch the argument between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard. It is better for a Christian to commit to memory a portion of Scripture rather than to add thoughtless comments to a Facebook post. There is plenty of "ugly" in the world, the Christian doesn't need to dabble in it.
Paul had given the Philippians his very own Apostolic example. He had lived among them and walked the path before them - it was now time to follow in his footsteps (v9). His example was Gospel bathed and battle scarred. He had known highs and lows in his ministry and yet was content in any and all circumstances. He faced plenty and hunger, abundance and need, yet in all situations Paul's focus was Christ-ward. His confession was that he could face any difficulty through Christ and the strength He provided (v12).
The Philippians had made it a priority to support Paul and his work. They had been with him in the beginning (v15) and had continued to support him ever since (v16-18). The relationship we find in the pages of Philippians between an Apostle and a church is a beautiful one. I think it is certainly worth considering and reading over and over. There has never been a perfect church and we are not naive to think fellowships will never have trouble. Nevertheless, as we study Philippians may the Spirit blow fresh Gospel air through our churches once again.
May we shun the ways of the world. May wickedness be no delight. May forgiveness abound. May restoration occur. May the Gospel be preached. May sound doctrine be cherished. May good days be met with rejoicing. May bad days be met with rejoicing. May anxious thoughts flee. May prayer abound. May we think on the beautiful. May we reject the ugly. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit (v23). Amen.
Q80 What is required in the tenth commandment? The tenth commandment requireth full contentment with our own condition, with a right and charitable frame of spirit toward our neighbor, and all that is his.