Friday, July 16, 2021

2021.07.16 Hopewell @Home ▫ Philippians 4:4–5

Read Philippians 4:4–5

Questions from the Scripture text: What does the apostle command them to do (Philippians 4:4)? In Whom? When? How does he reinforce this command? What new command does Philippians 4:5 add—what ought they make known to whom? Why?

The apostle here commands us to rejoice. How is that possible? Scripture here corrects the lie that rejoicing must be caused by feeling good. True, Christian rejoicing is not produced by unreliable and unstable good-feeling; true, Christian rejoicing is produced by our perfectly reliable, perfectly stable Lord. That is how it is possible to command rejoicing. That is how it is possible to rejoice always.

When things are going pleasantly, our joy is not to be in that pleasantness. Rather, we should think about the Lord Who has given that pleasantness. And how He gave Himself for us on the cross. And how He has risen again and reigns, and how He will return for us in the last day. And even more, how He has done all of this in order to give Himself to us forever and ever, and that He has already given Himself to us by His Spirit!

However pleasant our circumstances are, it is never enough to outweigh our being “in the Lord” as cause for rejoicing! Even if the demons submit to us, we are to rejoice instead that our names are written in heaven (cf. Luke 10:20).

Of course, circumstances are not always pleasant. But, even the most unpleasant circumstances can’t dislodge a particle of those wonderful truths of the reality of a believer’s being in the Lord. He can still rejoice in all of them, and he still is commanded to rejoice in the Lord! Always!

But the constant nearness of the Lord enables us to do even more than maintain and express a joyful heart. It also enables us to respond fittingly, kindly, gently to men in every circumstance. It is true that Jesus may return for us at any moment, and that this is good reason to seek always to be treating others as we would have Him find us doing. This is one part of what the apostle indicates in Philippians 4:5.

To understand the verse fully, however, we need to read it in the context of Philippians 4:4. He is already nearby, by our union with Him and by His Spirit’s indwelling us. Those who are inhabited by Christ’s Spirit, and united with Him to Whom we are being conformed, should constantly exhibit the fruit of that Spirit (cf. Galatians 5:22–23) and the character of that Christ (cf. Isaiah 42:1–4, 2 Corinthians 10:1).  

The Lord Jesus is near us to give us His sweet fellowship. The Lord Jesus is near us to press us into His sweet form. The Lord Jesus is near us to give us the sweet freedom to glorify Him and serve others. 

When we let our reasonable/fitting gentleness be known to all, we display that Jesus is near to us.

How do you keep mindful of your being in the Lord and His nearness to you? In what circumstances has this produced surprising joy in your heart or surprising gentleness toward others?

Suggested songs: ARP32B “Instruction I Will Give to You” or TPH281 “Rejoice, the Lord Is King”

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