(September 8, 2017) 6:16 AM Morning friends! When I said yesterday that we are to imitate Paul’s life and teaching, a crazy thought occurred to me. Has Paul done this very thing in Philippians? A good place to start, I said to myself, might be Paul’s concluding exhortations in 4:4-7. Mind you: This is no “shotgun parenesis.” What Paul writes in 4:4-7 is tailored-made for the Philippians’ situation. At this point, it might be interesting to compare Paul’s injunctions here with what we’ve already studied in 1:1-18. Ready?
- Rejoice! Yep. Paul’s joy is already evident in the body opening: Paul prays and gives thanks with joy.
- Give thanks! Most certainly. What is Phil. 1:3-8 if not a thanksgiving?
- Pray! The heart of Phil. 9:1-11 is just that — a prayer for the Philippians.
- Let your big-heartedness be known to all! You mean, maybe like Paul was toward those who sought to add to his bonds in Rome (see 1:15-17)? Note: In class the other day I called these people jerks. So I repent today. Paul never called them that, so I shouldn’t either. Knuckleheads maybe, but not jerks.
- The Lord is near. He is indeed near — both to those who pray to Him, and to those sufferers who await ultimate vindication upon His return.
- The peace of God. In 1:2, Paul had prayed for this peace to flood the Philippians’ lives.
I wouldn’t dare call this an exhaustive treatment of parallels between the beginning of Philippians and its ending. I’m not sure it’s even that important to point out, except to note how self-consistent Paul seems to be. He seriously knew how to write a letter! If he calls upon the church to have Christlike humility, he’s going to make sure they know he’s not an ivory-tower imposter. Paul the apostle was maybe the most fully and completely unselfish, unpretentious man to ever live apart from Jesus, and I just want to be more like him.
By the way, here’s Eugene Petersen’s interpretation of Phil. 4:4-7. I don’t know why, but I like it.
Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him! Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you’re on their side, working with them and not against them. Help them see that the Master is about to arrive. He could show up any minute!
Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.
Seriously? I’m expected to live like that? Which reminds me: I need to pray right now. I’m starting to worry again ….