Peace which transcends all understanding

Epistle to the Philippians 4: 4-9 (NIV)

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
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. 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.

In the context of the proximity of the Lord’s return (“The Lord is near”, verse 5b) the Apostle Paul instructed members of the church in Philippi how they were to conduct themselves. His points are as valid today for disciples of Christ:

  • Rejoice in the Lord always. This requires conscious effort. We are to be joyful in our Christian hope, demonstrating in thought, word and deed our joyous hope despite the stresses and disappointments of this damaged world.
  • Do not be anxious about anything! Putting aside anxiety requires conscious effort too. We are to look beyond immediate concerns and those sources of continuing anxiety to the promise of eternity with God. If we truly trust Jesus to be Lord of all and if we allow God to be God and to exercise oversight over the matters beyond our control – and even those within our control – we can be less intimidated by what seems likely otherwise to terrify us.
  • As we surrender concerns to God in prayer, he allows his peace to descend on us. That peace, if you have it, will guard your heart and mind. If you know that peace, you will know why Paul has called it a peace which transcends all understanding.
  • Paul then urged the Philippians, and us, how to direct our minds. We are to think about things such as these: whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable and whatever is excellent or praiseworthy.
  • Paul knew that what occupies our minds will then determine our actions. He had already commanded that the gentleness of those who love Jesus is to be evident to all. Everything he taught or commanded is to be put into practice.

For members of the church of God on earth, awaiting the return of Jesus in glory, we know how we are to think and how we are to act. For, as Paul said, “The Lord is near.”

  • Rejoice always. Let your gentleness be evident to all people you encounter.
  • Do not be anxious but pray and petition God with thanksgiving.
  • Think on what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy.
  • Having applied hearts and minds to such thoughts, then do them. Put them into practice.
  • Ask the God of peace to guard you and those for whom you pray with the peace of God.

We pray:
Our Heavenly Father, prepare our hearts and minds to follow more closely your Son Jesus Christ, to love you more and to live joyful, thankful and compassionate lives which will bless those around us. Keep us pure in thought, word and deed, that your name will be glorified and that we may be with you in your eternal kingdom. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.

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