Stand Fast in the Lord:
(Read Philippians 4:1-3)
Paul now addresses two ministry partners about the need for 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 the gospel will not last. 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 issues. 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 a third party to resolve their differences. These women labored with Paul and Clement in the gospel (Philippians 4:3). They may have supplemented Paul’s ministry by reaching other women for Christ (1 Timothy 2:12; Titus 2:3-4). They were true believers in spite of their differences. Paul says "Be of the same mind" because they are in Christ. 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 problems in the church (1 Corinthians 3:3). The differences among believers should be resolved for effective Christian witness.
Rejoice in the Lord Always:
(Read Philippians 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 Corinthians 6:10; 11:22-33). Happiness depends on circumstances and what is happening but joy is rooted in God. Joy is relational and Christ centered. "Rejoice in the Lord, always I say again rejoice!" (Philippians 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 our circumstances are not favorable. The Christian community should be marked by unity, joy and peace. Joy is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Having been justified by faith Christians rejoice in the hope of the glory of God (Romans 5:1-2). They find their joy in the Lord rather than in their circumstances. 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 does not 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 (Romans 8:28). Also they have the settled confidence that nothing can separate them from the love of God (Romans 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 Peter 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:
(Read Philippians 4:6)
Paul commands believers not to be anxious about anything. It does not mean that we should not plan for the future. The Christians should not worry habitually. Worrying is sin and its source is unbelief in God. Paul had many things to worry about. He was a prisoner living in the real world. We all have concern and care for our children and family. Worry means a divided mind. Worrying is the constant concern about things over which we have no control. The idea "Let go, let God" is not a Biblical idea. 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” (Philippians 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. Some people endure them with a 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 (Galatians 6:2). Constant worry is inconsistent to Christian character (Matthew 6:32). Someone has said “worrying is irrational, ineffective, illogical and irreligious” (Matthew 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. God knows our needs more than we know about them. Christians should seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added to them.