Do you agree it’s easy to forget God’s goodness when we’re anxious or busy? Paul understood how this can happen, even as he ministered to the Philippians so long ago. Paul appealed to church members then, trying to keep them on track. May this story help you today, as did Paul’s letters written to the people he longed to see filled with passion for the Lord. He desired for the Word to be within the people, to foster unity, to lovingly help the immature believers grow and trust they would receive his words that were written in love. What Paul desired for those he loved as Christian brothers and sisters, so I desire for you. Please accept these words as a challenge to come closer to the Lord and to those you love in this life.
Reading the fourth chapter of Philippians brings a clear picture of Paul’s teachings that true peace and joy come when we are rooted in following God’s ways. Paul writes with conviction. He lives what he writes. Even for those who didn’t know him personally, his deep love for the Lord was evident. Paul gives encouragement, instruction and appreciation for the help and support he received. He poured out his heart with deep desire for the people to be unified in a humble attitude toward one another and God. He stressed praising God and rejoicing over complaining and finding fault. Living in peace with promise was his choice over a life of anxiety and apathy with little regard for the One who gave the gift of life so lovingly to His precious children. Do we take this gift for granted? Are we any different than those Paul pleaded with to resist the enemy and reconnect with the Father? Do we live our days with a spirit of anxiety instead of appreciation? Paul’s words reach into each of our homes and hearts; are we listenig or looking elsewhere for peace and promise?
Anxiety is a Goliath in today’s world. Think through daily routines when worry and anxiety bully the best of us. Issues like physical health, a loved one’s condition, bills, lost jobs, health care, too much to do, too little time, maintaining the house and yard, fixing the car, buying gas, groceries, and things we’ve grown accustomed to, running late, work related demands, dealing with issues where the enemy gets his foot in the door, bringing confusion, frustration, and separation from those we love and from the Lord who loves us and longs for us to live in peace and prosperity. If anxiety rules in your life, Paul’s words offer help to keep from getting distracted by anxiety and to grow in joy and peace.
Paul reminds us to rejoice in the Lord always, to allow others to see gentleness in our lives, to give thanks to God as we ask Him to hear our prayers. He tells us not to be anxious about anything, but in everything to be in prayer. Then, even though we don’t understand it, the peace of God will guard our hearts and minds. Paul ends with my favorite verse. Philippians 4:8 “…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.”
Paul wants us to put our disagreements into the proper perspective and think on lovely things instead of being troublemakers and concentrating on chaos and confusion. The two church members who continued to disagree and cause problems were gently rebuked by Paul. We don’t know the details of the two women’s troubles, just as we don’t need to know all the details of things that go on in our churches, at work, even in situations with family members. Yet, we should be supportive as Paul encouraged the congregation to do when members were in need of love and understanding. Paul showed how the church should operate as a partnership, being honest about joys, sorrows, burdens, and issues to be worked through together. Dealing with conflicts maturely and directly with love and support will be evidence that we are of one mind.
We should give our anxieties to God, act gently, work for peace, and rejoice in the peace that only God provides. When we do this, anxiety won’t rule our lives and we will enjoy our days instead of dread them. We can work together, worship together, and walk together in unity with joy in our hearts and homes.