Out mind directs our will and emotion.
Stand Fast in the Lord: 4:1-3.
Paul now addresses two ministry partners about the need of unity in the church. There is an urgency in this instruction in light of the soon return of Jesus Christ. He calls them “My brethren, whom I love and long for”. These terms show Paul’s endearment and affection toward them. He longs to see them face to face. They are his joy and crown. They are the fruit of his ministry. This crown refers to a victor’s crown. They are going to be Paul’s delight and reward at the judgment seat of Christ (1 Thessalonians 2:19). Paul exhorts them to stand fast in the Lord because the gospel was under attack. It is a military term. He encourages them to remain faithful to the Lord in spite of difficulties. The doctrines matter. The believers should not undermine the sufficiency of Jesus Christ. Many churches do not preach the exclusivity of gospel because it may offend others. The church without gospel is not worth preserving. Someone has said "It is like a well without water and a steam engine without fire". Paul expresses his personal concern for Euodias and syntyche. They were the early converts of his ministry (Acts 16). Euodias means “prosperous” and Syntyche means “pleasant”. They were women of prominence in the church. But they couldn’t work together in harmony because of personal issue. Pride and ambition for leadership usually get in the way of unity in the church. Paul admonishes them to be of the same mind in the Lord and wants to resolve their differences. Their disunity is a hindrance to the ministry of the gospel . It contradicts the model Christian servant-hood. Believers should be able to resolve their differences. Paul lovingly pleads for reconciliation. He did not sit ideally in their disagreement. He does not support either one of them. He sought the help of third party to resolve their differences. These women labored with Paul and Clement in the gospel (4:3). They supplemented Paul’s ministry by reaching other women for Christ (1 Tim 2:12; Tit 2:3-4). They were true believers in spite of their differences. Paul says "Be of same mind" because they have the same salvation. They belong to the same family of God. He reminds them that they have a common cause and a common enemy. Paul recognizes that their disunity is a hindrance to the work of the gospel. The carnal believers live to please themselves rather than to please Christ. They will cause division and problem in the church (1 Cor 3:3). The differences among believers should be resolved for effective Christian witness.
Rejoice in the Lord Always: 4:4-5.
Apostle Paul exhorts believers to keep on rejoicing in the Lord. Joy is the mark of true Christianity. Paul is in the prison yet he is rejoicing in the Lord (2 Cor 6:10; 11:22-33). Happiness depends on circumstances but joy is rooted in God. Joy is relational and Chris centered. "Rejoice in the Lord always I say again-rejoice!" (4:4). We rejoice because we are in Christ and he never changes. His promises are true and his love is constant. Biblical joy exists when our emotion is sad and in all our circumstances. The Christian community should be marked by unity, joy and peace. Joy is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Having justified by faith Christians rejoice in the hope of the glory of God (Rom 5:1-2). They find their joy in the Lord rather than in their circumstances and amusements. Joy is a conscious and continuous satisfaction one finds in Christ. It is contagious. The gospel is the message of joy (Luke 2:10; John 15;10). Biblical joy built upon four propositions. Christians rejoice because they are in Christ. This speaks of their identity. They rejoice because they know that Jesus is Lord and He controls all things. He cannot make mistakes. Also they know that God works all things together for good to those who love the Lord and who are called according to His purpose (Rom 8:28). Also they have the settled confidence that nothing can separate them from the love of God (Rom 8:35-39). Only sin can deprive our joy (Psalms 51:12). The source of joy is God and His word (John 15:11; 1 John 1:4). James exhorts believers to consider it a joy when they fall into various trials (James 1:2). Old Testament saints found their joy in the Lord and in His Word (Psalms 119; 174; Habakkuk 3:17-18). Paul urges believers to consider others and be gentle to all men. They should be gentle and compassionate in their dealing with others. It is a Christ-like quality in life. God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble (1 Pet 5:5). Always remember that the Lord is near. Paul urges them to practice God's presence in their lives. Recognize God's constant care in our life. Paul understands the urgency of this by saying “The Lord is at hand” (4:5). Our Lord may return any time, so we must avail every opportunity to serve Him. We should live as if each day might be our last day. All believers have to give account of their time, talent and treasure at the judgment seat of Christ. Are you a rejoicing Christian? Is the joy of the Lord your strength? (Nehemiah 8:10)
The Answer to Worry: 4:6.
Paul commands believers "Be anxious for nothing". The Christians should not worry habitually. Worrying is sin and its source is unbelief in God. Paul had many things to worry. He was a prisoner living in the real world. It does not mean we should not think and plan for the future. We all have concern and care for our children and family. Worry means divided mind and it will torn apart us by undue concerns. Worrying is the constant concern about things over which we have no control. The idea "Let go, let God" is not Biblical. Thanksgiving and worrying cannot coexist. Some people worry about everything. Paul exhorts “Be careful for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known unto God” (4:6). Everyone battles through tough times and hardships in life. There are multitudes of things over which people worry. People worry over failure. Others worry over sickness and old age. Many people worry over children and loss of job. Some people endure them with stoic mindset. They accept them believing there is nothing they can do to change it. Some people try to escape from hardships by ignoring them. Some people hope for the best. Someone has said "Worrying is worthless, wasteful and do not do any good". But Christians must live their lives by drawing grace from God in times of hardships knowing that He is in control of all things. God does all things to conform us unto the likeness of Christ. (James 1:2-4). There is a difference between concern and worry. Paul exhorted believers to have concern for fellow believers (Gal 6:2). Constant worry is inconsistent to Christian character (Mat 6:32). Someone has said “worrying is irrational, ineffective, illogical and irreligious” (Mat 26-31). Worrying about tomorrow will drain today’s energy. It is sad that some Christians worry about their past sin. A worrying person has a divided heart and he cannot accomplish anything for God.
How to deal with Worry?
What is the remedy for worrying? Paul exhorted believers that “In everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your request be made known to God” (4:6). Our God cares for us. When we pray we cast our cares upon God (1 Pet 5:7). Prayer can set us free from constant worry. Worry and prayer are mutually opposed. Prayer speaks of our trust in God. When we pray we deliberately and willfully entrust our situation to God. Supplication is our earnest pleading for personal needs. Thanksgiving should always accompany our prayer and petitions. Prayer usually moves from general requests to personal requests. Prayer should not become the last resource. Many believers are unwilling to turn to God who cares for them. Nothing is too small or nothing too great for God. The specific prayers are dynamic prayers (Mark 10:51). Our worrying will be resolved as we praise God for what he is doing in our lives. When we fear and trust God, there is nothing else to fear. God is anxious to answer our prayers before we even pray to Him (Isiah 65:24; Dan 9:23; Mat 7:7). His ears are opened to our cries (Psalms 34:15; 73:17). God is sovereign and his will be done. We should seek God’s will and wait upon Him (Mat 6:33). Jesus said "Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. sufficient for the day is its own trouble" (Mat 6:34).
God's all sufficient Peace:4:7.
God offers peace to those who pray to him. Peace is not the absence of problem but the presence of God in the midst of them. Many people don't experience peace because they do not focus on God. Someone has said "Peace is the serenity of heaven". God is at peace always and there is no panic in heaven. The peace of God exceeds all human understanding. God promised to guard our hearts and our minds with his peace in Christ Jesus (4:7). Having been justified by faith, Christians have peace with God (Rom 5:1). We are reconciled to God through faith in Christ. He is our peace (Ephesians 2:13-18). But we experience the peace of God when we submit to God’s sovereign rule over our lives and believe that God is in control and does not make mistakes. This is the inward tranquility of soul. One may have peace with God without having the peace of God. The peace with God is dependent upon faith in God. Usually the storms of life draw us closer to God in prayer. We should bring every need to God in prayer. Also we should develop a thankful heart toward God. Then the Holy Spirit guards our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus. There is no need to worry about what might happen. Jesus promised his peace to his disciples (John 14:27). It is Jesus who equips us to live with a calm serenity regardless of how trying our situations may be. God is able to keep us in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Him because we trust in him (Isaiah 26:3). When we trust God for everything, the peace of God rules our hearts (Col 3:15). Prayerfully seek God's help not to be anxious in the storms of life and to experience his peace. God's peace surpasses all human understanding and guards our hearts from fear and worry.
Right Thinking: 4:8-9.
Paul reminds believers that the peace of God is the result of right praying, right thinking and right living (4:4-9). Our mind directs our will and emotion. Our spiritual and emotional health depends upon what we think. We can not experience the peace of God in vacuum. There is a relationship between proper thinking and healthy living. The believers must guard their thought life. Paul encourages Philippians to fill their mind with seven spiritual virtues. Only the indwelling Holy Spirit can produce these blessings. The believers should bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor 10:5). “For as a man thinks in his heart, so is he” (Pro 23:7). Life should be directed by truth and not by emotion. Someone has said "We live in a time reasons and logic are replaced by feelings and impulses". The mind is the oldest battle ground of good and evil. The believers should fill their minds with truth. They must have a Christian world view. Though we live in the world, we are not of the world. They should avoid falsehood, fake news and human speculations. They should think honorable things worthy of respect that bring reverence to God (1 Tim 3:11). They should fill their mind with good things. They should not entertain crooked ideas. When the mind is allowed to drift to dirty thoughts, we lose peace and communion with God. They should think whatever things are lovely and pleasing to God. Also we are exhorted to fill our mind with good report and avoid things that destroy our devotion to God and harmony among believers. Paul ends the instruction by saying “If there be any virtue and if there be any praise, think on these things". The believers should consider these qualities to remain in their thought life. All these noble qualities were exemplified in Christ. Right thinking produces right living. Paul practiced what he preached. And his life spoke more eloquently than his lips. So he exhorts Philippians to practice what they learned and seen in his life. Paul wanted them to go on to spiritual maturity. Someone has said “Maturity in a Christian is not measured by what he knows but by what he does”. When believers practice these things, they will experience God’s presence and peace in their lives (4:9). It is impossible to experience the peace of God without knowing personally the God of peace. The relational conflict and anxiety can rob our peace. The devil has schemes to bring us down by what we think and watch.
The Check points to guide and guard our thought life:
Fix our thought on what is true. Truth is found in the character of Christ and in the Word of God (John 17:17). People have no sense of truth in these days. Many people think that there is no absolute truth in the universe and the world is full of contractions. Truth is only an opinion. But the fact of the matter is that relativism is self defeating when it comes to real life issues. We are all in need of truth. Jesus said "I am the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6). We should think what is honorable to God. We should think the right things. We should think what is pure. It speaks of moral purity. Our mind should be filled with lovely or winsome thoughts. Also we should think what is commendable. It means we must speak well of others. We should think excellent and anything worthy of praise. The devil is out there to destroy us. So these are the check points to guard and guide us in our Christian life.
The Secret of Contentment: 4:10-13.
The spirit of discontentment is permeating our society. Paul says "I leaned to be content in every situation" (4:12). He learned contentment by practice. His circumstances were not ideal. Yet Paul found his contentment in Christ. It was a
God given, Christ centered satisfaction he found in God's providence. Someone has said "Contentment is a God given spirit to accept what you are, where you are and what Christ asked you to do". Contentment is not lack of ambition. Paul was ambitious and contented. Paul expresses his gratitude to Philippian church for their financial support sent with Epaphroditus. He was grateful for their constant care and concern for him and the ministry. They lacked opportunity to support more because they were poor (2 Cor 8:2). Paul says, he had learned the secret of being content in any and every situation (4:12). Contentment is not natural, it is to be learned. It is not human but divine. Contentment is not external but internal. Paul learned contentment by his utter dependence and submission to Jesus Christ. When things are not going our way we get frustrated. Contentment does not come automatically but it is a learned habit. The more we learn to depend on the sufficiency of Christ, the more we learn the secret of being content. Paul want them to know that he had no need that God can not meet. He knew how to live in both plenty and in need. People wonder, how does one learn the secret of being content in difficult circumstances? Paul answers that in verse 13. "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength”. It was Christ who strengthened Paul to adjust to all circumstances. He found satisfaction and contentment in Christ's sufficiency. Someone has said “Where the finger of God points, the hand of God provides". Our contentment rests in Jesus who provides all our needs. May God fill us with joy and contentment.
Faithful Partners in the Gospel Outreach: 4:14-17.
Paul thanked the Philippian church for their generosity. They were faithful in their care and concern for him. They considered Paul’s suffering to be their own suffering (1 Cor 12:26). He had great appreciation for their partnership in the ministry. No other church had partnership with Paul like Philippian church from the first day until now. They believed that "It is better to give than to receive". Their giving is the evidence of their spiritual maturity. Giving and receiving are expressions of partnership in any ministry. The only rule in the Bible for giving is our generosity (1 Cor 16:2). The generosity is measured by how much God has prospered us. The widow's two mites shows that generosity has nothing to do with our means but every thing to do with a desirable heart (Mark 12:41). Philippians had received spiritual blessings through Paul and they responded by sharing practical help to him. They practiced what Paul taught them (Gal 6:6). Paul was grateful that their gifts met his needs. He rejoiced over their gifts and desired that it might abound to their account in heaven (4:17). Paul gives a book keeping terminology here. No one becomes poorer by giving to God. God is faithful to settle our account and pay big dividends at the end. Investing our time, talent and treasure for the kingdom of God is not a waste but will provide good return. Hudson Taylor said "God's work done in God's way never lack God's supply". We serve a faithful God.
My God shall Supply all your Needs: 4:18-19.
Paul viewed the gift sent to him as a sacrifice acceptable and well-pleasing to God. (4:18). It was like the peace offering, a voluntary act of worship to God (Leviticus 1-3). Their generosity was like a sweet fragrance. The Philippian church met Paul’s need out of their poverty but God will meet their needs according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus (4:19). God promises to meet all our needs and not our wants. Paul could not repay the Philippians but God would. God’s supply is infinite, abundant, inexhaustible, boundless and glorious. He gives according to His riches and not out of His riches. God has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:3). The great and glorious channel of our blessing is Christ Jesus. He is the only mediator between God and men (2 Tim 2:5). There is no other channel. Paul was confident that when believers remain being good steward of things committed to them, God will supply all their needs from his glorious riches. We serve a faithful God. Do you trust in the sufficiency of Christ?
Paul concludes the epistle with doxology. “Now unto God our Father, be glory forever and ever” (4:20). Paul wants to praise God for his care and goodness towards his children. It flows out of his joyful heart. God deserves our praise and worship not only for time but also for eternity. The remaining verses contain exchanges of greetings. All believers are saints because they are in Christ. (4:21). Paul singled out “those in Caesar’s household” (4:22). Paul personally won many them to Christ. Paul concludes his letter with the same blessing of grace with which he began the letter. “The grace our Lord Jesus Christ, be with you all. Amen” (4:23). From beginning to end, this letter is centered on the grace of God. Paul was saved by the grace of God. This marvelous grace motivated Paul to serve Christ. This grace sustained him in times of trails and difficulties. The same grace is available to each believer today. Have you trusted Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior? Are you a rejoicing Christian? If not, trust in the Lord Jesus Christ before it is too late. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.