Summary: Paul shows in Philippians 4:4–7 four basic principles for developing and maintaining a life of thankfulness regardless the circumstances. This can occur through: 1)Maintaining a Spirit of Joy (Phil. 4:4), 2) Learning to be Content (Phil. 4:5a), 3) Restin
Earlier this week the National Post ran an advertisement that has caused some controversy. The ad, bought by the Institute for Canadian Values, argued against aspects of the Ontario school curriculum that include instruction about certain aspects of human sexuality. Specifically, it objected to teaching young children — those between junior kindergarten and Grade 3 — about transsexual/transgender/intersexed/two-spirited issues. The ad in question was attempting to make the case that the Ontario curriculum was teaching very young children about issues that, at that age, should be the domain of parents. In addition, it made the case that even when parents or teachers may object to the material being taught, they did not have the right, in the case of parents, to remove their children from the class, or in the case of teachers, to decline to teach the material on the grounds that they objected to it. This steemed to bring a healthy discussion on what is being taught children and the right to respectfully disagree is a healthy consideration and one to be thankful that such a public examination is being made.
What is quite unusual is that on Saturday, the National Post Editorial Bord published an apology and said that: " Where the ad exceeded the bounds of civil discourse was in its tone and manipulative use of a picture of a young girl; in the suggestion that such teaching “corrupts” children, with everything that such a charge implies; and in its singling out of groups of people with whose sexuality the group disagrees. The fact that we will not be publishing this ad again represents a recognition on our part that publishing it in the first place was a mistake. The National Post would like to apologize unreservedly to anyone who was offended by it. We will be taking steps to ensure that in future our procedures for vetting the content of advertising will be strictly adhered to. The Post will also be donating the proceeds from the advertisement to an organization that promotes the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people". (http://news.nationalpost.com/2011/09/30/an-apology-from-the-national-post/)
Thankfulness that healthy public discussion was happening , quickly turned to concern that funds that were most likely raised on behalf of Christians were being donated by the National Post to an organization that promotes anti-Christian values. On Saturday, I cancelled my subscription to the National Post that I had since its inception.
How do we maintain a spirit of thankfulness when circumstances change so rapidly? When we naturally go from joy to despair we become restless and quickly lose confidence in people.
These swings of course are not a new human phenomenon. For the Philippians, in rejoicing and giving thanks for the message of Salvation through Christ, that very message divinely came through a messenger written to Philippi from Rome in early A.D. 63. Paul was especially close to the church in this, the leading city in Macedonia and he was writing while imprisoned. (Richards, L., & Richards, L. O. (1987). The teacher’s commentary (934). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.).
The Philippian believers were downcast at the growing internal problem of disunity (chap. 2) and the external danger and pressure of the false teachings of the legalists and libertines (chap. 3). The news about Paul’s imprisonment (1:12–26) and Epaphroditus’s illness (2:25–30) could also cause uneasiness (Elwell, W. A. (1996). Vol. 3: Evangelical commentary on the Bible. Baker reference library (Php 4:4). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House.).
Paul shows in Philippians 4:4–7 four basic principles for developing and maintaining a life of thankfulness regardless the circumstances. This can occur through: 1)Maintaining a Spirit of Joy (Phil. 4:4), 2) Learning to be Content (Phil. 4:5a), 3) Resting on a Confident Faith in the Lord (Phil. 4:5b-6a), and 4) Reacting to Problems with Thankful Prayer (Phil. 4:6b–7).
1) Maintaining a Spirit of Joy (Phil. 4:4)
Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. (ESV)
This verse expresses the theme of the book of Philippians, that believers are to rejoice in the Lord always (cf. 3:1). Paul issued this call to rejoice he was in prison awaiting the outcome of his trial. Further, he and Silas had already provided the Philippians with a godly example of rejoicing under adverse circumstances, for, according to the account in Acts, on the occasion of the initial preaching of the gospel at Philippi the two missionaries, who had been unjustly beaten and thrown into prison, had joyfully sung hymns (Acts 16:25, ὑμνοῦν) and prayed (O’Brien, P. T. (1991). The Epistle to the Philippians : A commentary on the Greek text (485–486). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans.).
Joy is such a vitally important factor in believers’ spiritual stability that Paul repeats his command for emphasis: again I will say, rejoice! This repetition presupposes the reality that it was not easy to be joyful. On the surface it seems so unreasonable to rejoice in obedience to a command, and perhaps even more unreasonable to rejoice always, under all circumstances no matter how trying (Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953-2001). Vol. 5: New Testament commentary : Exposition of Philippians. New Testament Commentary (192). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House).