Rejoice in the Lord!
Philippians 4:1-23 (Pastor Brian)
1 Therefore, 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!
2 I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord. 3 Yes, 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. 4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, 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. 9 Whatever 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.
Thanks for Their Gifts
10 I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength. 14 Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. 15 Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; 16 for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid again and again when I was in need. 17 Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account. 18 I have received full payment and even more; I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. 19 And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. 20 To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
21 Greet all the saints in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me send greetings. 22 All the saints send you greetings, especially those who belong to Caesar’s household. 23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.
In chp 3, Paul had warned against the legalists (Judaizers) who took the focus off of Jesus and tried to put it back on the OT Laws as qualifications for salvation. Paul tried to say, “Look, fellows, if anyone is qualified – I’m SUPER qualified – but that stuff is worthless in the face of the glory and mercy and grace of Christ.” Christ had died for his (our) sins – and Paul continually warned against falling into the trap of legalism. However, they should still keep their eyes on the prize. It was the grace of God to allow him to do the things that God himself had set out for him to do from the beginning of time.
In the early days of the church, they were expecting the quick return of the Lord. In fact, every generation SHOULD have that kind of expectation. During one’s lifetime, an expectation of prophesies fulfilled and events come to pass to advance the progress of his coming.
Phil 4. “Therefore my brothers,…
v. 1-4 “in the Lord” 3 times:
- Stand firm in the Lord
- Agree in the Lord
- Rejoice in the Lord
Clearly Paul has a great affection for the believers in Philippi (Lydia, the slave woman, the jailer, etc) – they had a good relationship between them. They are his “crown” – diadema (diadem = kingly crown), stephanos (crown of achievement – that Olympic athletes coveted – leaves that encircled one’s head. This is the word that Paul uses for the Philippians). Paul is also envisioning them at the great wedding feast of the Lamb (Jesus) with these crowns adorning their heads as well.
They give him joy, honor, he can appeal to them as friends. So his closing words are very positive. (Lyrics: Mr. In-between?)
Paul mentions two women by name: Euodia, Syntyche – apparently this disagreement was not merely a private matter but had caused problems among the fellowship. He didn’t order one or the other to do something – he didn’t assign blame but treated each the same and just “pleaded” with them to “agree together in the Lord.” (no churches like that today, eh?)
Regardless of the disagreement – we can agree together in the Lord.
He also agreed with the assignment of the “yokefellow” mediator between the two women. He said, “their names are in the book of life” and he praises them for their service to the Lord and the sharing of the gospel.
Some people may be good gospel witnesses, but have weaknesses in other areas of their lives.
These women needed some help to patch things up and so the yokefellow was called upon to help mediate. Since their names are in the Book of Life, they really ought to try to get along NOW.
Rejoice in the Lord! Again, I will say it, rejoice!
Yet, at this time, Paul is chained, under house arrest in Rome. “I can do all things in Christ” he says. Yes, it can be hard to rejoice when there are personal disagreements, or persecution. How would you fare in such circumstances? Keeping your eye on the prize in these circumstances is much more difficult. We need to pray for ourselves and for others in this situation to continue to be faithful and grow in faith in the Lord.
10,000 Reasons is not enough for Paul to rejoice in the Lord.
We have a salvation that no one can take away from us.
Let your “gentleness” be evident to the Lord. (”gentleness” = untranslatable, really – “moderation” in King James). The Greeks defined this word as “justice and BETTER than justice.”
William Barclay: “As teachers, if you have two students: one with 80%, one with 50%, perhaps the 80% student has all the right circumstances in his LIFE to acquire that. The one with 50% may have horrible life circumstances that dragged him down. The 80/50 would be justice. But the teacher may take things into consideration and assign 80/>50. This is mercy, and “gentleness” as defined here.
“Don’t be anxious about anything…”
Be CONFIDENT that God will take care of ALL your needs. Paul is helping the Philippians concentrate on the positive.
- God’s love desires what is best for us.
- God’s wisdom knows what is best for us.
- God’s power brings to pass what is best for us.
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy …think on such things.” This is a challenge (especially with world news… or interpersonal relationships) – even to memorize this verse in order is a challenge.
If you have a problem with someone, do that (above) and you will find peace (which surpasses understanding) that will guard (a military word) your heart and mind (this is a gift from God) in Christ Jesus.
“Whatever you have learned, received, heard from, or seen in me, put into practice.”
How many of us could say this with confidence? Paul has “walked the walk” as well as “talking the talk.” If you do that, the God of Peace will be with you. These are both tremendous promises.
The God of Peace, Love, Comfort. The Great Shalom – not just the absence of conflict, but Well-Being (Korean word there) when we imitate godly people.
Paul then thanks the church for the help they sent him while he was in prison. He is thankful for the physical gift, but he uses this as an opportunity to point them away from focusing on the physical – spiritual is so much more important.
“I can do everything through him who infuses his strength in me… I’ve had times of plenty, and times of poverty – and have ALWAYS looked to Christ in EVERY situation.” Christ gives strength to endure when times are tough. Not all of us can live the lives of prosperity and comfort we wish to – Christ enables us to endure all circumstances (this is NOT “Christ will help me DO ANYTHING I want!” – consider the context – a text taken out of context is a pretext – untrue).
Yet, it was good of you to share in my troubles. In the early days, not one church shared with giving and receiving except for you. (In Corinth, the Philippians supported him – a strange turn of events since the Philippians were quite poor, but the Corinthians quite wealthy.)
The stoic philosophers used to say, “the desire to not have desires” – Paul used this to say, “I’ve been (become) content in all circumstances.”
The giving of the Philippians = the equivalent of a bank account accruing interest. When we serve God physically, we reap in spiritual rewards.
The sacrifice pleases God – whether offerings to poor or missionaries, and “my God will meet all your needs in Christ Jesus.” He is no one’s debtor. The reason we can be generous is because God will meet all our needs.
Post script – personal greetings to the saints in Philippi (especially those who belong to Caesar’s household – civil service members). Paul drops a hint that the gospel is bearing fruit in significant places and significant ways. About 300 years later, Christianity in fact, will become the “national” faith.
What better way to conclude than by receiving the Lord’s grace? Let’s remember the Lord in his death and resurrection and coming again with the Lord’s supper.
Remember, on the night he was betrayed, Jesus took the bread and said, “This is my body, broken for you, do this in remembrance of me.”
In the same manner, he took the cup saying, “This cup is a new covenant in my blood, drink ye all of it.”