The Secure Mind
I don't know about you, but for me a good worry has always seemed a real
effective use of emotional energy. I mean when everything is going well,
we can always worry about what will go wrong and when. Don't you know the
Christian who is so convinced that God wants life to be miserable, that when
there is a time of peace, they simply wait for the other shoe to drop? And
of course, since we all know that obedience means trouble, when God gives
a respite,we wonder what is wrong in our life. We must be out of the Lord's
will. And so we worry about that.
Then as things are tough, I can always worry about what else can go bad.
After all, things can always get worse, can't they? And of course, since
we sometimes think it is God's will that we are comfortable in our lives
and suffering is a result of sin, then we believe we must be out of His will
if things are going poorly. And so we worry about that.
The bottom line is that worry is certainly the most practical way of dealing
with life. As someone always said, "If I expect the worst, then when it happens,
I won't be surprised, and if by some miracle things go well, then I can be
pleased." Let's face it - when we worry, we are not able to really affect
the outcome of things. Unfortunately, this view seems to be inconsistent
with Paul's. We are much more likely to hear him say, "Don't worry, Be Joyful!"
And isn't that what we've said we want to experience, joy? ...
... well, we've examined three out of four of the factors which we can choose
to let steal our joy. First, we looked at circumstances, and have seen that
as as we focus on the Lord and understand that He uses circumstances to further
the work of the kingdom, then we will realize that "And
we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him,
who have been called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28). In other
words, how can we lose our joy over circumstances, when we know that God
is in control and that He will use them to benefit us?
Next, we saw that we chose to allow people to steal our joy. But the reason
this occurs is because we are looking at our relationship with others, based
on how we may benefit. But it is as we look at others through God's eyes,
and allow His agape to flow through us, that we become more concerned with
their needs than our own. Then, while others may hurt us, we will not lose
our joy, for our focus will be towards them not ourselves. The basis for
maintaining joy when having to deal with people, is to remember the great
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all
your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.
And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and
the Prophets hang on these two commandments" (Matthew 22:37-40).
Over the last couple of weeks, we have seen that we can allow our focus on
things, both tangible and intangible, to steal our joy. But as we realize
that we are citizens of Heaven, and Christ has much more to offer us than
the world does, things will lose their hold, and therefore their effect on
our joy. And here, Paul noted that the final thing we should desire is the
return of the Lord and our being made over in His image. We have the joy
of looking forward to that day when hopefully we will be able to hear Christ
"Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been
faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come
and share your master's happiness!" (Matthew 25:21).
Now in Philippians, we find one last factor that can steal our joy. This
one probably overlaps the other three, and certainly as I allow the other
three to affect me, I often find this last one coming in and overwhelming
the other three. This last factor is worry. I think that many of us fall
for the response that says if you can't do anything else, you can always
worry, like worry is something constructive. I know for me, that as I let
circumstances, people or things get to me, I find that I oft-times deal with
them by worrying. And there is not a doubt that worry can and does steal
our joy. Well, as Paul closes this letter to the Philippians, we find him
giving directions for dealing with worry.
The Secure Mind - Chapter 4
God's Peace - Chapter 4:1-9
God's Power - Chapter 4:10-13
God's Provision - Chapter 4:14-23
Verse 1: Paul closes the principles section with saying, because of
all that has gone before, follow everything we have noted. This verse would
probably be better in the previous chapter, but it is in a sense a transition
from doctrine to the practical applications for the Philippians.
Verses 2-3: Therefore Paul closes his letter by dealing with some
specific concerns he has for the church at Philippi. Apparently there was
some strife in the body. Now certainly this shouldn't be a surprise. After
all, there are often disagreements that lead to some emotional stress within
any family. How many of you can get along with? Well, that being the case,
is it any surprise that sometimes resentments spring up within the body?
In passing Paul mentions some other believers, saved individuals who had
worked with him including Clement.The two who weren't getting along were
a couple of women by the name of Euodia and Syntyche. We don't know what
the disagreement between them was. Paul doesn't even seem concerned with
who may be right or wrong. He is only concerned with one thing, spiritual
unity, that is a desire by both for the mind of Christ. Remember his words
in 2:5, "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ
Jesus" Clearly both had served the Lord and both had worked along
side Paul. He asks someone in the Philippian body to come along side them
to help restore the relationship.
We don't know who this fellow worker is, probably a specific elder that would
have received the letter. Paul calls those within the body to work out the
problems within the body. Now,whoever this individual was it seems that he,
or for that matter she, may have been discouraged. And it is discouraging
to have to deal with disharmony, disunity within a body that is made up of
those that are to agape.