Read Philippians 4:1-9
1Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends!
2I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord. 3Yes, and I ask you, loyal yokefellow, help these women who have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.
4Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8Finally, brothers, 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. 9Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me — put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (NIV)
Paul is near the end of his letter. He begins his final thoughts by reminding the people that they are his crown. The word for crown here is not a royal crown, but a crown that the victors of a game are given of a crown a guest of honor at a great banquet is given. It is as though Paul is saying, at the great feast in heaven, you are my crown. But he also sums up his letter by saying that is how you should stand firm in the Lord. We are to put the past of our lives behind us and look forward to the great joy we have in heaven. I love the idea that God is a God of the future. He does not hold our past against us and is always laying out a great future for us.
Paul then delves into an argument or disagreement that has developed between two women who have worked at Paul’s side. He implores them and the congregation to help heal this rift. This is a common problem even today. I have seen in every church I have served or been a member, people getting into disagreements, beloved people who say they love Christ, but get into such a disagreement that both leave the church. It is sad and one can hear Paul’s anguish and tears as he writes. We need to be peacemakers at all times and Paul is trying to be a peacemaker here.
Then he makes that wonderful statement, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say again, Rejoice.” I think this is a constant reminder we all need at times in our lives. When things are not going well or we are worrying about the future, we need to remember that God is still in control and thus, we can rejoice. And this should help us to not be so anxious, but to let the gentle spirit in us show forth to all as we take everything to God in prayer. Having a thankful heart and spirit is key to following Christ.
Paul then reminds us what we need to focus on. Too often we focus on the bad in life. Paul says, don’t do that. Instead, focus on “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy” focus on that. What a great reminder of how to spend our time of reflection and devotion.
How do you let your gentleness be evident? Do you tend to get caught up in focusing on the negative in life instead of the good in life? How do we move in the direction Paul is leading us?
Blessings and Peace