I love the first verse of this chapter. Do we believers feel this way toward one another? Is our love for each other so deep we can describe one another this way? Verse 1 reads,
“Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.”
It sounds like something in a love letter, my joy and my crown. Do we honor one another so much that we can call the brethren our joy? Are there people out there who came to salvation because of your Jesus-glorifying actions and words? Are the people of your church your part of your reward and treasure of the Kingdom of God? Our love for each other ought to be that apparent and true. We, the bride of Christ are supposed to be united in love, spirit, and purpose. Paul implored two women to agree in the Lord. Verses 2-3 say,
“I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. 3 Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.”
If we notice that we are having an issue or some discord with a fellow believer, especially one in the local church, we need to strive to agree with them. If we are both Christians we have the same goal and we have the same Lord. We are in love with Him and we should love each other. Our conflict, even if it is just a little friction can ruin our witness and cause someone to reject Christ because they judge Him by us. Is the issue truly so important that we can’t exhibit the humility of Jesus and submit to a brother or sister?
Like our love and unity with each other, our Christianity too should be so obvious and genuine that we stand out in every way from the world. We don’t have to grumble and moan, we rejoice. We don’t think with our stomachs and follow our emotions and desires, we are sensible and levelheaded. We do not freak out or worry, we trust God. Verses 4-7 say it this way,
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
People in the world and in our American culture seem to think anxiety is necessary. But when we follow Jesus, we know we don’t have to worry, we pray, we ask the Lord to provide while we express our gratitude for who He is, all He has done, and how He cares for us so perfectly. When we trust God to be God the Holy Spirit fills us with peace and comfort that the world can’t understand. And moreover, He guards our hearts with that peace. The world wants us to freak out. They wonder how we aren’t as stressed as they are in whatever dire circumstances we are in, but they can’t grasp it because they don’t know God. When they see our even calm response to trouble they have to ask themselves how and why we are so different.
Furthermore the world loves bad news, chaos, and disaster. They watch car races in hopes of seeing a crash, they read trashy magazines to hear the dirtiest gossip, and they watch the news to hear how awful the world is. But Paul exhorts us to think differently. Verse 8 reads,
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
Paul knew he lived a genuine Christ-glorifying Spirit-filled life. He wasn’t afraid to say “follow my example do as I do.” Can we say the same thing? I, for one know that I can’t, not entirely. But I strive for that. So that I will be completely confident to say, “Follow me as I follow Christ.” In verse 9 Paul says
“What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”
Believer, the God of peace is with you. Live as if He is. Trust Him to be God. Live out your belief in Jesus.