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Staying United

After reminding Christ-followers that we are “citizens of heaven,” Paul goes on in Philippians 4:1-8 to give us at least three critical insights about exactly what it looks like to live in this world under Christ’s grace driven leadership. 1 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!” Philippians 4:1

On Sunday, guest speaker Dan Roseman pointed out three “grace driven invitations” in this passage. 

1) Unity  

“2 I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. 3 Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.” Philippians 4:2-3

Apparently, there was a conflict between two women in the Philippian Church. Though Paul did not say what the source of the conflict was, it was clear that the disagreement was disrupting the unity of the body of Believers and needed to be resolved for Christ’s sake. So Paul asked a friend in the church to step in to help resolve the conflict.  

There is no doubt that conflict can and will create division in any relationship, but especially in the church because people tend to take sides. When that happens, the church can get distracted from what matters most, its mission of sharing the gospel! It’s clear that we must be proactive in dealing with conflict before it causes much bigger problems in the relationship. This is important in the church, in the workplace, in school and in our homes! When help is needed to resolve the conflict, seek help; but always follow Jesus’ model for conflict resolution in Matthew 18:15ff.  

2) Joy

4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:4-7

Anxiety is an issue that many people struggle with in America; in fact, as many as 19 million struggle with some type of anxiety disorder. When Paul talks about not being anxious about anything, he’s referring to an anxiety that stems from a lack of trust in the Lord to provide what is needed in your life. The answer to this type of anxiety is often to simply turn to God in prayer, asking Him to provide whatever it is that you need in life. That’s not to say that nothing is expected of you or me; after all, Paul also wrote: 10 For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.” 2 Thessalonians 3:10. But no doubt, God will take care of our needs!

But underworking is not the only temptation we might face; overworking can be tempting too when we are anxious that we don’t have enough or when we just want more and more. If I see Paul’s warning against anxiety as a call to trust God as my provider, I’m rightly convicted by my workaholism and greed. And the great news is, when my mind is fully focused on Him and trusting Him, I will experience the unfathomable peace of God! And that peace leads to great joy that comes only in the Lord.

3) Upward Thoughts  

8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8-9 NIV

This is one of the most obvious, yet under-applied passages in the entire Bible. How much better is your life when you have your mind set on these things? Let’s face it, we don’t always naturally tend our thoughts toward what is noble, or true, or pure, or lovely, or admirable; but what if we did? What if we were committed to this mindset? How would that impact our joy and peace in life? Ask God to help you put this into practice in your life! When you do, no doubt you will experience the God of peace.

We live in this world; but we are not of this world. As citizens of heaven, we will be attractive to the lost around us as we pursue unity in our relationships, experience joy that comes from fully trusting God to provide all we need, and put into practice a heavenly mindset that yields the peace of God! For much more, click here to listen to: Joy on the Journey - Part 10 - Staying United


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