I preached on Philippians 4:1-9 yesterday and was struck with its relevant message for today. So I thought I would blog on this subject this week.
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. 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.
I don’t know if you have ever been walking in a gale. In Argentina, we went on holiday to a small resort called Santa Teresita. We went for a walk down the beach one day and as we walked we could see the clouds up ahead getting darker and darker. Eventually we decided that we should turn back as it looked like it was going to be quite a storm. The clouds, and more to the point, the wind was moving a lot faster than we were. By the time we had reached our resort Wilma was struggling to stand up and was actually running along, driven by the wind. I don’t think we could have walked into the wind at all!
Sometimes I feel that the Christian life is rather like that, we feel embattled and battered. Sometimes it is by circumstances; sometimes through people doing unkind things; sometimes it is just the secular society we live in.But we find it difficult to "stand firm".
The Philippian Christians, I am sure, felt this way. Paul and Silas had planted that church and it was not a big group. Paul you will remember was arrested and beaten (Acts 16) and eventually escorted out of the city. I don’t suppose the persecution went away after Paul and Silas left. In this final part of his letter, Paul encourages the Philippians to “stand firm”.
This passage whole passage is to do with ‘standing firm’. Paul seems to be referring back to an earlier discussion when in 1:27 he says, ‘Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel.’ Chapter 4:1 speaks of ‘standing firm’ and verse 3 about ‘contending for the gospel’.
So, how do we stand firm as Christians? In the next few days we will look at the advice Paul give to the Philippian Christians and then see what we can learn. As a heads up Paul encourages them to stand firm in unity, joy and healthy patterns of thought and action.