Monday, July 11, 2011
Last week on Thursday we looked at the Apostle Paul's exhortation to two Christian women who have been disagreeing and he gives the Philippians - and us - exhortations for how to live in light of the gospel. We said last week that the two godly ladies who are disagreeing with one another should be reconciled in Christ. They are two leading Christian women in the church there, and yet somehow they have fallen out with one another and Paul calls on them to be reconciled.
Today we’ll look at the Apostle's three exhortations and the promise of peace of God that results when we live lives permeated by the gospel.
II. Rejoice always.
The second thing he says by way of exhortation you see in verse 4: "Rejoice always." We've said over and over there is nothing about the Philippian situation that would make them rejoice, but they rejoice in God and what He has done for them. It is no accident that Paul, right after talking about a church division, would turn around and say, Rejoice always.
III. Be reasonable.
Then he says in verse 5, “Be reasonable.” Paul gives a reason to be reasonable, because the Lord is at hand. In our dealings with one another we're to be kind and gentle and generous, and respectful and reasonable, because The Lord Jesus is coming back at any moment.
Have you ever been having a fight with your wife and a dear friend walks in? Ahem...things straighten up real quick, don't they?
So Paul's saying, 'If Jesus walked in the door, suddenly things would straighten up real, real quick!' Paul's saying the Lord could come back at any time, so conduct yourselves towards one another like it was Jesus who was getting ready to poke His head in the door, because He is!
IV. Don't worry. Pray instead.
And then he says don't worry, pray instead because God knows your needs. He's calling on us to show trust and confidence in God in all situations.
Now Paul is not saying that the Philippians don't have anything to worry about. There are lots of reasons why they could worry, but because they've got a God who's in charge who loves them and to whom they can pray, so they needn't worry.
Paul is giving this encouragement only to Christians, however. If you're not a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, you do have something to worry about. Because you’ve turned your back on the only One who can do anything about your situation. You haven't trusted Him, you really do have something to worry about.
But here's the good news. Instead of turning your back on Him, if you'll look Him in the face and you'll trust in Him, you'll rest in the Lord Jesus Christ and trust in Him for salvation as He is offered in the gospel, you too can know what it is like to live worry-free in a care-filled world, because you have a heavenly Father who has forgiven your sins, and you have a heavenly Father who has promised you in His Son Jesus Christ that He will provide for all your needs.
V. The promise.
Then comes the promise in verse 7. Paul says when you have been cultivating joy in your heart, joy in the Lord, joy that's not derived from your circumstances, but joy which is derived from the gospel grace that God has shown to you in Jesus Christ, when you have been seeking to live in gentleness and reasonableness with your brothers and sisters in Christ, when you have, instead of worrying 24/7, you have been entrusting yourself to God to provide for your needs, and then in your time of need, in your hour of plight and trial, God is going to give you a peace beyond your comprehension, so that when your circumstances are screaming to you, "Despair! Hopelessness!" you will have a hope in you didn't come from you and didn't come from your situation, it came from the Holy Spirit testifying to your spirit this: God's promise is true, despite everything in your circumstances.
The exhortations in verses 2-6 allow us to receive that promise. The promise is there for believers, every believer. But do you know what happens? If we won't pray, we won't experience the promise like God wants us to. If we don't cultivate reasonableness and gentleness with one another, we won't be ready to experience the promise the way the Lord wants us to. If we're not cultivating joy in the Lord in our hearts, we won't be ready to receive and experience the promise the way the Lord wants us to receive it.
We see here again that God never tells you to do something that isn't ultimately for your good! Each of the exhortations in this passage, including the exhortation to be reconciled, is so that in your hour of need, you're readied by your heeding of these exhortations to experience the peace that passes understanding.
We need that peace. But receiving that peace begins with our cultivating peace with one another, with our cultivating joy in our hearts, with our cultivating reasonableness and gentleness with one another, and with our praying and not worrying, because we have a God that we know loves and cares for us. And when we do that, the amazing thing is the Holy Spirit comes and gives a direct testimony to our souls that God's promise is true and will hold you up when there is nothing else in this world to hold you up.
Posted by Ligon Duncan at 11:18 AM