Weds 29th November Philippians 4:2-9
Meditation on Philippians 4:2-9
2 I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. 3 Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
- BREAKDOWN IN RELATIONSHIPS Verses 2-3
Paul has just pleaded with his fellow Christians to ‘stand firm in the Lord’. And we know how much he valued them as brothers and sisters in the Lord by the way he refers to them – ‘whom I love, whom I long for, my joy and crown’. These people are very special to Paul. Here is an example of true Christian fellowship – an example to us all.
But now he has to refer to a potentially difficult ‘fall-out’ between two sisters in the Lord – Euodia and Syntyche. Whatever the cause of their disagreement is not occupying Paul as he writes this letter. He probably knows the situation only too well. He doesn’t take sides. He appeals to each of them to sort out their differences. He appeals to others to help in this process – ‘I ask you, my true companion, help these women…’
He knows that these two women are Christians – ‘they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel’. They are members of the team who are ‘my co-workers’.
Their names ‘are in the book of life’.
What a tragedy that, whatever the cause and nature of this disagreement, there is now a fracture in the team and, therefore, the gospel witness is marred.
The only one who is getting any satisfaction out of this situation is the devil. He will do all he can to disrupt and destroy the work of the gospel by causing such a breakdown in fellowship among God’s workers.
We need to be on our guard.
- POSITIVE ACTIONS ARE A KEY TO BLESSING Verses 4-7
‘Rejoice in the Lord’ i.e. to delight in the Lord. As we consider who He is and all that He has done for us, this fills us with joy. This is not the first time – nor is it the last - that Paul exhorts us to rejoice in the Lord. And remember that Paul is in a Roman jail when he writes this letter. In the most difficult and challenging of circumstances, Paul is focussed on the Lord and he encourages us to do the same.
Habakkuk 3:17-18 ‘Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vine, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Saviour.’
Wow! What a testimony.
‘Let your gentleness be evident’. In his letter to the Corinthians Paul refers to the ‘humility and gentleness of Christ’. How often we see these characteristics in Jesus as we read His story in the Gospels as He met people of all ages, situations and circumstances. His consideration for others is a mark of His gentleness so we are called to follow His example.
‘Come into the presence of God’ This addresses both the negative and positive aspects of our living – i.e. ‘don’t be anxious’ rather ‘pray, petition and be thankful’ and ‘bring your requests to God’.
Paul wants to challenge and encourage us to engage with God.
- THE PROMISES OF GOD Verses 7-9
As we display these characteristics, we can be assured of knowing the peace of God and the God of peace.
This peace is conditional.
We will know His peace as we follow the example of Jesus in His attitude to others - verse 7.
We will know the God of peace as we control our thought life – verse 9b.
This ‘peace of God’ is not a wishy-washy happiness.
It is a peace which comes from God – Romans 5:1 – ‘we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.’
It is a peace that is beyond human understanding.
It is a peace that garrisons our heart and mind.
It is a peace that fills us up from the inside and protects us from the outside.
This peace is conditional on our having a relationship with God through Jesus.
The ‘God of peace’ is…
- a God of power. Hebrews 13:20-21 ‘Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen’.
- a God of victory. Romans 16:20 ‘the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.’
It is this God who will be with you.
But this is also conditional. Notice the word ‘and’ before the word of blessing. The ‘and’ links what has gone before.
- We rejoice in the Lord – He is central
- We look for His coming – the Lord is near
- We let God know our concerns and needs – the Lord is listening.
In all this our ‘thought-life’ is critical – verse 8
The Message summarises this verse as ‘Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practise what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realised.’
Paul offers his own example as an example to us – verse 9 – ‘And’ – here is the conditional word that links our lifestyle with knowing that ‘the God of peace will be with us.’
God help us to live up to what we have read in these verses.