Summary: Worry is something we all do but Paul says we need to never worry and instead discover the peace of god through prayer.
Phil. 4- I have enjoyed preaching through this book of Philippians but while preaching through it it has also revealed just how much further I have to go as a person trying to live my life in such a way that it pleases our Heavenly Father. Every week has revealed shortcomings I see in myself that I need to work on. Which is actually good because if I were already perfect then life would be pretty boring. This morning Paul deals with the problem of worry. No doubt all of us struggle with worry more than we care to admit. While living in such uncertain economic times worry seems to grip everyone. (Recently- Swine Flu Pandemic- media loves to cause a panic) The words that Paul writes in Phil. 4 mean a lot to myself because I am a worrier. My mom always got on to me as a kid because I worried about everything. I really struggle when someone is mad at me. I worry about it to no end. I stress, get anxious, get singularly minded meaning that is all I can think about, talk about, and pray about until the conflict is resolved. I don’t fear conflict but I worry until it’s resolved. It is something I personally have to learn to overcome this sin in my life and this scripture this morning gives us the formula to do just that if we will let God do a work in us to overcome worry.
Reading the letters of Paul you don’t seem to get a sense that he was a man that worried a whole lot. He had incredible faith. He had a singular focus in his life. It was to love God, love people and serve the world. (Explain the 3) That is what he did day in and day out. He undoubtedly as a human probably at times struggled with doubt, anxiety. He may have had times where he questioned God and even worried about the unknown of his situation. His life was always in danger I can imagine that he worried at times if that day would be his last or not. Through it all Paul continued to rejoice in God’s goodness, forgiveness and eternal love. He continued to preach and put his life on the line for the Gospel. He continued to encourage other believers and build up the church.
I can’t speak for all of you of course but I know for me Paul’s level of faith greatly outshines my own. Which is why when I read this letter as a young pastor who will openly admit my own self-awareness in immaturity and lack of faith I recognize how much further I still have to travel in my relationship with Jesus.
Paul was not perfect but he walked with God. His character was righteous because of Christ working in him. His faith is greater than ours because he knew what really mattered in this life. Not money, not fame, not nice homes or nice cars, not sports, not jobs, not hunting, not college football, not position in the church. None of it mattered. What mattered was do you know God, do you love people and do you serve the world? Singular focus. Because of that he could rejoice through all trials, struggles, temptations.
Paul was so proud of this church because unlike the other churches he writes to in the NT this church had very little internal problems. They were of one mind, singular focus as the body of Christ and as individuals going through the daily routine of life. But no matter how focused we are on loving God, loving people and serving the world there will always come a time where sin will creep into our lives and into our church. It is guaranteed to happen. The closer we get to God the harder the devil fight us. Even in this church Paul had to counsel them in matters of internal conflict and he had to remind them of what matters most. Staying on course, singular focus of doing God’s work. That we need to always be rejoicing and quit worrying about everything which is what a lot of us do.
This same conflict will come up in our church and in us as individuals as well. Not because we have failed and fallen from grace but because sin and temptation still dominate this world. Each of us, every single day, has to make sin our slave by resisting it and putting God first. We will lose the battle at times but it is the one who knows how to deal with the sin and temptation that will come out of it as Paul did so many times, rejoicing and stronger in faith than when they went in.
In the beginning of Philippians 4 Paul deals very briefly with an internal problem happening he then gives some powerful words of encouragement that help remind the church and us today to stay focused on what’s most important in life. To not worry about anything struggle or problem but to rejoice in everything and focus on prayer.