“So then, my brothers, you are dearly loved and longed for – my joy and crown.” (Philippians 4:1a)
Paul includes in his letter to the church at Philippi a great amount of encouragement that we can also benefit from today – some 2,000 years later. He gives practical advice for the one who is pursuing a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. These words of advice are action words and phrases scattered throughout the fourth chapter of the book of Philippians.
First, “Rejoice in the Lord always.” (4:4) Today you may read leadership articles and books suggesting to people how important it is to be thankful. People often meditate today on all they have to be thankful for as a means to be more productive. God designed us to express love and joy back to Him, which includes thankfulness. This also helps us to have spiritually healthy hearts. Those who are pursuing God should have even more to be grateful for because of the love and grace present there.
Second, “Let your graciousness be known to everyone.” (4:5) Being gracious or kind is basic to the life of an individual created by God. However, in our world today, so many of us are experiencing unhealthy relationships that push us to the limits and we often do not know how to extend graciousness. Instead we look out for our own interests and kindness is left out. This exhortation is outward focused; this is how God created us to thrive.
Third, “Don’t worry about anything…” (4:6a). Worrying seems to be a practice that almost everyone engages in daily. At it’s core, it is essentially expressing to God that He is unable to handle whatever it is we are worrying about. This is why, following this command, Paul tells us the way not to worry, which I will share next.
Fourth, “…let your requests be made known to God.” (4:6b) This is another way of saying “Pray!”. Prayer may be a mystical idea to you or you may think it is something very formal. However, prayer is, in its simplest form, talking with God. God is personal and He wants to know us personally. Prayer is one of the greatest benefits of the Christian. We can come before God in prayer and let him know our requests. This is how we cease from worrying; we give that thing we are worrying about up to God and leave it in His capable hands.
Fifth, “Do what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.” (4:9) Paul ends this part of his letter by stating to his readers that we cannot just read or hear these good ideas, but we must do them. And when we do them, the peace of God will be with us. Isn’t that what all of us really want is God’s peace? We have the path to God’s peace right here before us. It’s very simple. We must do these things. As we do them over and over, we will experience the faithfulness of God.
In summary, rejoice, be gracious, do not worry, pray and do these things over and over. What is the result? It is the peace of God. Thank you, God.
William “Carey” Northington of One Master Ministries in Xenia may be contacted at OneMaster.org.