As Paul and Timothy close thier letter to the brethren at Phillipa, they give the church there a last bit of advice. It’s good for us today, too. While we can’t live this way on our own, it is no longer we who live, but Christ in us. It helps, though, to have some idea of what that looks like so we can see whether we’re yielding to the Holy Spirit or not. Paul and Timothy give us a picture in Php 4:4-9 of walking in the Spirit:
- “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!“How often do we follow this advice? When things are going well? Following it when we don’t feel so great is a supernatural thing.
- “Let your graciousness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.“Graciousness? What does that mean? The Greek is epieikes, and Strongs says it means: appropriate, that is, (by implication) mild: – gentle, moderation, patient. Thayers says: seemly, suitable, equitable, fair, mild, gentle.
- “Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.“ Easy to say, not so easy to do. This is where it comes in handy to KNOW Him–I mean really, really know Him, that He is good, and that He will answer our requests in His own way, according to His goodness and His love toward us. Not like a parent who’ll do anything to spare his/her children pain, but like an all-knowing, all-loving God who does the truly best thing for His beloved–even if it hurts sometimes.
- “And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” To me, that word “and” says: Do this AND that will happen. “Come to me, AND I will give you rest.” Scripture is full of these conditional clauses. If we, in the strength of the One who indwells us, do 1,2, & 3, then the peace of God will come and guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
- “Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable–if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise–dwell on these things.” How easy to think about lies, dishonorable behavior, the injustice we see daily, the impurity, the ugliness, the inexcusable, the immorality and the shame of this world. These things were there in abundance in the days of the early church–in many ways more so than now. Yet Paul doesn’t admonish the brethren to protest the moral decay or spend every spare moment fighting it. He tells them to think on/dwell on good things.
To me this is a HUGE relief. (Even if it does cut down on the movie and TV time!) It’s also a challenge, because the negative loudly clamors, while the beautiful and lovely things just hang around being quietly beautiful, waiting to be noticed. Notice them. You’ll be so happy you did.
- “Do what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.” Can you say this to your children? Your friends? Can I? Do we really want them to do what they’ve seen in us? If we’ve been following the advice of 1-5 above, we can say a confident “Yes!”
Father, help us to live in such a way that we can say with Paul and Timothy, “Do what you’ve seen me do.”