As Paul begins the end of Philippians, we’re reminded that we can change the world, but we need to change ourselves by letting God do the work in us. We decide that our relationship with Christ is more important than our egos and petty disagreements. We recognize that our lives must match the goodness of the God who loves us and brought us into fellowship with Him. When we change our lives to be in harmony with God, we recognize the beauty of his world and we do all that we can to make a difference in this world.
- Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved. 2. I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord. 3. And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellow labourers, whose names are in the book of life.
One thing Paul did when he ended his letters was give shout-outs to those in the community who furthered the cause of the gospel, or gave last minute admonitions to people who needed one last gentle, or perhaps not so gentle, reminder about their calling as followers of Christ. As he ended either this section, or the whole letter, he reminded them that his treasure on earth didn’t come from silver or gold, his earthly treasure came from his relationship with God’s people as they lived in harmony with God. Here, he reminded Euodias and Syntche to put aside any unimportant issues and focus on their commitment to the Lord so that they could work together for the spread of the gospel. What was the problem? There’s a lot of speculation because scholars are that way. Telling to me is that Paul didn’t address the specific problem, he dealt with the people involved in the problem, letting them now that their differences, the causes of which were unimportant to him, were hurting the spread of the gospel.
He then makes an interesting appeal to “true yokefellow.” I wonder if he meant a specific person. Perhaps it was to the person who would be reading the letter to the church, if it was a specific person. Because these letters were written to be read out loud, I think it was a generic address to anyone who considered themselves a “true yokefellow.” I can’t help but wonder if “true yokefellow” was an insider nickname that some, if not all, of the Philippian Christians gave themselves. True yokefellows, true believers were called to act as peacemakers for these two women who had worked with Paul in the proclamation of the gospel. How could people help? Perhaps the most important way to help in those circumstances is to avoid taking sides.
Have you ever noticed that when two people in a church are at odds with each other, sides begin to form? Oh, we may say that we love that person who’s opposed to our bff in the church, but we’re not going to talk with them. Taking sides, fighting in the church, sometimes even worrying about right and wrong in the ministry causes more problems that it solves. These women had labored for the cause of Christ with Paul, with Clement, and with others as well, and at that time, it appears that they wouldn’t even talk with each other. (I know that may be a big leap, but, that’s how I see it.) Paul wanted to remind them, and have his brothers and sisters in the church remind them, that nothing is more important than the cause of Christ and advancing the gospel.
- Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. 5. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.
I’m going to do a little experiment here. Do these words flow together? “Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe. Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.” They seem to flow, and it’s interesting that the first part of this new paragraph let the Philippian church know that Paul didn’t remind repeating things, which he then did by telling them “Rejoice…again I say, ‘Rejoice.’” While the way the letter is made up isn’t important since we understand that the whole letter, as we have it today, is God’s word, it’s interesting to look at, in my opinion.
Whatever the situation may be, Paul’s closing words are an admonition to rejoice. We’re told to rejoice in the Lord always. The repetition emphasizes Paul’s call to rejoice. When we’re walking with the Lord, it’s a lot easier to see why we should rejoice in Him no matter what happens. Contrary to the old saying “he’s so heavenly minded that he’s no earthly good,” our outlook should be “he’s so heavenly minded he can deal with the earthly bad.” Paul’s call for moderation here may be more accurately described as patience or reasonableness. The NIV uses the word “gentleness” to translate that word. We can be patient, or gentle, or reasonable no matter what may be happening because we know that in the end, God wins, as will all who walk with Him. If the Lord is at hand, if the Lord is coming soon, the problems of this world fade away. And what’s the worst that can happen to you if you face your problems with an attitude of joy in Christ even if His return is delayed? As you think about it, rejoice in the Lord.
- Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
One of the problems understanding the King James is that our language usage has changed over the years. Without context, it would appear that this verse is advocating a wild, reckless life. What it means is don’t be full of cares about anything; don’t be anxious in modern verbiage. Do we have problems? Of course we do, but instead of worrying about them we’re to lift them before God in prayer and supplication, knowing in faith that He’s dealing with our problems even before we seek Him. How often are we afraid to bring things before God, perhaps because our concerns aren’t worthy of bothering Him, in our own minds. Prayer is just a special conversation with the one true God who accepts you and your needs as you are and loves you at your worst. It doesn’t matter what you tell Him, He already knows, has already forgiven, and He still loves you. This is why we can have peace no matter what the situation may be. This is the peace that drives the world crazy because they can’t figure out how we handle the issues that we deal with. As that peace grows, we grow closer to God; as we grow closer to God, our peace grows. It’s an amazing cycle that keeps us joyful in this crazy, modern world.
- Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
We live in a world filled with bad news and terrible people. We can let the problems of this world overwhelm us, or we can follow Paul’s teachings and see the beauty of God’s creation and God’s way in any situation. A lot of the self-help gurus will tell you to fill your mind with positive things and avoid negative thoughts. While they approach the issue of your thoughts from a secular perspective, Paul calls us to look at the positive, at the beauty of the world from God’s perspective. We are to seek truth and honesty in a world of lies and fake news. We’re to work for justice in a world that oppresses people because of their beliefs or ethnic identity. While our world glorifies scandal and lewd behavior, we’re to seek and live in purity. We’re called to see the beauty in the midst of the ugliness, notice the good when the world points out the bad, live a virtuous life in relationship with God while the world does its own thing, and find ways to praise instead of criticize. Paul not only told us to think about these things and fill our mind with the good stuff, the God stuff, but he continued his message in verse 9 by calling us to act on our thoughts. Psalm 23:7 begins with the words, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he…” (KJV) A call to think good thoughts, is a call to change the world by acting on them.
- Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.
Paul continued the teaching from verse 8 noting that they had heard teaching on these issues and seen Paul acting like that in life. As followers of Christ, we need to boldness to proclaim God’s plan for life, and we need the integrity to be an example of His plan. We should live so close to the words we teach that we should be able to tell people, “This is the right way, oh, and check my life to see that I live that way already.” When we teach one thing and do another, we’re hypocrites. That disconnect in our lives causes a lot of discomfort. We try to hide it from others, and ultimately from God. And we fail. And we’re miserable. When our lives are in harmony with God and His plan, we experience a joyful peace, a peace that passes understanding, that sustains us in difficult times.