[CF Devotionals] 2003-11-22 - Philippians

Part 33

  1. 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 commands.

    "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 say,

    "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.

    1. The Secure Mind - Chapter 4
      1. God's Peace  - Chapter 4:1-9
      2. God's Power - Chapter 4:10-13
      3. 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.

Comments or Questions?

[email geoff] geoff@aol.com