Reading for Friday, Aug 10: Philippians 4
I love the way Paul addresses these believers in ch4: “Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown…” (v1). His love for these brothers and sisters leaps off the page. He longs to be in their presence. They bring him joy, they are his crowning achievement. This is a snapshot of the kind of relationships we enjoy in God’s Kingdom.
“I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord,” (v2). Strife and discord has plagued the body and Paul takes this moment to gently rebuke these sisters. This is no idyllic picture of Kumbayah Christianity. This is real life stuff…arguments and disagreements have taken their toll on these sisters. It’s not that conflict is some foreigner to the body. But Paul exhorts these sisters to rise above these issues for the sake of the gospel.
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice,” (v4). Joy is one of the the hallmarks of the Christian faith. It’s more than exuberance; true joy is irrepressible faith played out in a variety of circumstances. Paul sees this joy as the source of Christian reasonableness (v5), the cure to anxiety (v6), the key to prayer (v6), and the path to peace (v7), the kind of experience that transcends knowledge and understanding. God’s peace is a knowing deeper than information; it is a place of abiding trust in the arms of God.
“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, think about these things,” (v8). Along with ch2, Paul says much in Philippians about the mind of Christ that should indwell us. In short, we are to fixate on the things of God. Let these be your obsessions, your ultimate aim.
When this happens, we, like Paul, learn contentment in all circumstances (v11). This is the meaning behind the oft-misquoted verse: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” (v13). What we typically mean by this is, “I can do great things with Jesus by my side.” And this is true…it’s just not exactly what Paul is saying here. What he means is that he can face any kind of circumstance because Jesus is his source of strength. Whether it’s being brought low or abounding in plenty (v12), Paul says he can do all of this because of Jesus.
And the same is true of us.