Imagine all the obstacles a person might have to overcome if he were to walk from New York City to San Francisco. One man who accomplished this rare achievement mentioned a rather surprising difficulty when asked to tell of his biggest hurdle. He said that the toughest part of the trip wasn’t traversing the steep slopes of the mountains or crossing hot, dry, barren stretches of desert. Instead, he said, “The thing that came the closest to defeating me was the sand in my shoes.”
Such a small thing and yet, it became a big hindrance in his walk. The same thing may be true with us. Small things often trip us up more than big things. And Paul wanted to warn the Philippian church to beware of even a little disunity.
EXAMINE Philippians 4:1-9
The Philippian church was overall a good church. They loved each other. In Paul’s other letters he writes to churches to settle conflict (doctrinal, moral or philosophical) whereas this letter has hardly any. It’s a very relational book as Paul had a special partnership with the Philippians.
“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now” Php 1:3-5
They were also generous givers to missionaries as they partnered with Paul by spreading the gospel and with financial support (4:15-16). They also appear to be a joyful church as this theme (4+x) runs throughout the letter Paul writes. However, the point of the letter is to emphasize one important fact – the gospel (9x) matters. The gospel is central to everything the church gives energy and resource to.
So was the Philippian church the ideal or perfect church? Actually, no. Once again, Paul shares his vulnerability in giving a peak into their lives as where the gospel needed to be applied: relational anxiety. Until this point the book has been an encouragement toward spiritual living and growth; almost as Paul’s been on “auto-pilot” writing this letter. Now, towards the end of his letter he addresses a few local concerns causing anxiousness in the church.
Rejoice in your crown (Philippians 4:1).
Paul found joy and love in the Philippian church. But his joy was in that his labor was not in vain (2:16) as there were many believers in the Philippian church. Paul said they were his joy and crown and called them to stand firm in the Lord. His reference to being a crown is to call to mind their eternal destiny of winning the prize and goal of life – acceptance before God through faith in Jesus Christ.
Jesus told the disciples that they were to rejoice not in miracles or circumstances but in the overall reality that their names were written in heaven (Lk 10:20).
This should call us to ask ourselves 2 questions:
1) Will I receive a crown? Is my name written in heaven?
2) Who is my crown? With whom am I sharing the gospel?
- High 5: Invest – Invite – Incarnate
- Incarnate means share your encounter with Jesus
Rejoice in your relationships (Philippians 4:2-3).
The Philippian church was a good church but it was not exempt from conflict. In fact, every church is one relationship away from hurt feelings, conflict, division, disunity and disaster. Christian unity is gained slowly but lost quickly. All it takes is a few simple words and conversations to upset relational unity.
Euodia & Syntyche has some sort of disagreement. It is not known what the issue was, only that Paul called for them to rejoice together for the sake of the gospel. Christian unity is not just to be a happy family but it is to reflect the character of Christ to a lost world.
– The issue was unnamed. Sometimes it doesn’t matter the issue just to get over it and work together for the gospel.
– Paul’s letter would be read to entire church, naming these ladies publicly for their conflict. The church leadership may mediate.
– These ladies may have been leaders and they were setting a bad example, yet there was still a call to resolve and unify.
John 17:21-23 Jesus prayed “that they may be one, just as you, Father are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and I loved them even as you loved me.”
ð What relational conflict needs unity in your life?
ð Your relationships have a multi-generational impact through our church and in your family.
ð Ephesians 4:25-27; Colossians 3:12-15
Rejoice in the Lord (Philippians 4:4-9).
Lastly, Paul encourages the believers to find their eternal joy in God. He repeats the phrase for emphasis. When we find our eternal joy in other things we worry, stress and become distracted with disunity. However, when we find our joy in God wee are prayerful and trusting toward God.
Those who rejoice in the Lord have contentment. Paul says that he rejoiced in God and therefore learned contentment (4:10-13). Christian maturity comes from our relational pursuit with God, rightly understanding the gospel.
ð Anxiety is not an emotion to manage or nursed but a sin to be repented. At its root is lacks trust in God.
ð Get a piece of paper and mark 2 columns. On one side write down things that give you stress. On the other side write things that give you joy. This helps you to identify stressors & joys. Discuss this with a spouse, friend and in prayer to the Lord. Commit to honoring and trusting God in these areas.
ð Commit to practicing the peace of God through Scripture (4:8-9).
Isaiah 26:3 “You will keep in perfect peace, him whose mind is fixed on God.”