When You're Coming Unzipped...Do This.

Wowza. We flipped through Philippians in no time! Amidst turmoil and pain, Paul excavated a sublime treasure available to each of us: joy. I'm so thankful for the opportunity of becoming Paul’s housemate and fellow bondslave to Christ. Using His mighty hand, God engraves His word on our hearts. Let’s see what He writes this week… 

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! 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.

-        We don’t know what the stink was between Euodia and Syntyche (maybe they kept spelling each other’s name wrong), but we know this: Paul didn’t waste his ink dissecting who said what or why. He just said, “Get it together.” There’s wisdom in this approach when it comes to disputes. Don’t get caught in the middle – simply confront the parties and say, “We’re all adults here, we each love Christ, and we must be unified. Work it out.” 

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. 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.

-        We’re going to sit on these verses for a bit and ensure we’ve dug up the nuggets of truth! Get your shovel ready – we must be willing to work out our salvation and listen to what God speaks.

-        Verse 4: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Paul believed the word REJOICE was worth repeating. In chapter 3, we talked about our citizenship being in heaven and how “REJOICE” should be brightly stamped on our license plate (and we shouldn’t let our tags expire). Now, you can remember the “double 4s” (Philippians 4:4) verse as a reminder to double REJOICE!

-        Paul, of all people, had reason to complain and worry. The Holman Bible Dictionary tells us the word rejoice is “the happy state that results from knowing and serving God.” Joy is the fruit of a right relationship with God.

-        Verse 5: “Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” Matthew 11:29 expresses Jesus’ words that say, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Gentleness was a characteristic of Christ, and in this verse, Paul reminds us that we are to be Christ-like by showing gentleness. But he goes even further to say that this characteristic should be evident to all. I often remind folks in the corporate world to be mindful of their social media activity, but this same truth applies no matter your role. Go through your personal page from the last couple months and review what you’ve posted, how you’ve commented, and the content you’ve shared with others. If people knew nothing about you and your page could “talk,” what would it say? If you’re unsure, ask a trusted and godly friend. Would your gentleness and Christ-like character be displayed in each post? I know, this one is a toe-stepper for me, too!

-        Verse 6: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” I will duplicate what Warren Wiersbe shares about this verse because it gave me a completely new perspective:

o   The Greek word translated “anxious” (careful) in Philippians 4:6 means “to be pulled in different directions.” Our hopes pull us in one direction; our fears pull us the opposite directionand we are pulled apart! The Old English root from which we get our word worry means “to strangle.” If you have ever really worried, you know how it does strangle a person! In fact, worry has definite physical consequences: headaches, neck pains, ulcers, even back pains. Worry affects our thinking, our digestion, and even our coordination. From the spiritual point of view, worry is wrong thinking (the mind) and wrong feeling (the heart) about circumstances, people, and things. Worry is the greatest thief of joy. It is not enough for us, however, to tell ourselves to “quit worrying” because that will never capture the thief. Worry is an “inside job,” and it takes more than good intentions to get the victory. The antidote to worry is the secure mind: “And the peace of God …shall keep [garrison, guard like a soldier] your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:7). When you have the secure mind, the peace of God guards you (Phil. 4:7) and the God of peace guides you (Phil. 4:9). With that kind of protection—why worry? If we are to conquer worry and experience the secure mind, we must meet the conditions that God has laid down. There are three: right praying (Phil. 4:6–7), right thinking (Phil. 4:8), and right living (Phil. 4:9).

10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it.11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

14 Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. 

-        Paul learned a priceless lesson in contentment. Regardless of the circumstance or situation he was in, he showed self-sufficiency through Christ, satisfied to the point where he was not disturbed or uneasy (Amplified Bible). He may have been physically tossed by the waves as he drifted in the middle of the sea (2 Corinthians 11:25), but his soul was anchored in the sufficiency of Christ.

-        Philippians 4:13 is a popular one. I clung to it in high school and would write it down often. Back then, I didn’t have a full understanding of the background sandwiching this verse. That’s why verse-by-verse studies are necessary for our spiritual growth – we need to understand the surrounding context to rightly apply the truth. Paul was saying that whether he had little or much, Christ was enough. He was ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infused him with inner strength and confident peace (Amplified Bible). Mull that one over!

15 Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; 16 for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid more than once when I was in need.17 Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account. 18 I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. 19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

20 To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

21 Greet all God’s people in Christ Jesus. The brothers and sisters who are with me send greetings. 22 All God’s people here send you greetings, especially those who belong to Caesar’s household.

23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.

-        Paul counted the Philippians's gift as a “sacrifice” glorifying to God. He didn’t see it coming from them, but being provided by God. It’s tough for me to remember that what I have isn’t because of me, it’s because God has chosen to bless me. I deserve none of it, yet He amply supplies!

-        The next time you set in your heart what to give (2 Corinthians 9:7), take a moment to pause and recall that it isn’t yours to begin with. It’s an unmerited gift you can sacrificially give back to bring God glory.

I end each chapter study the same way Paul ends the book of Philippians: amen. Or, in other terms, “So be it!” It’s time to let the book we studied beBe applied. Be alive in you. Be written on your shield of faith. We’ve spent the last four weeks chained-up beside Paul as he penned this letter to his sweet church family in Philippi. Never fail to remember the love letter the Father penned to you during this study.

I'll catch you next week as we continue studying the remaining Prison Epistles of Paul. We’ll crack open the book of Ephesians, which was Paul’s first prison letter.