Summary: Paul gives clear instruction to teach us how to be free from worry and wrapped in the blanket of God's peace. If we want wholeness or victory and advance in our spiritual life it begins and is governed by our thought life.
Intro: David Jeremiah gave a list of how not to have joy and peace. In his book on joy he said I guarantee that if you follow these guidelines you will have unhappiness.
1) Make little things bother you: don’t just let them, make them. 2) Lose your perspective of things, and keep it lost. Don’t put first things first. 3) Get yourself a good worry – one about which you cannot do anything but worry. 4) Be a perfectionist: Condemn yourself and others for not achieving perfection. 5) Be right, always right, perfectly right all the time. Be the only one who is right and be rigid about your rightness. 6) Don’t trust or believe people, or accept them at anything but their worst and weakest. Be suspicious. Charge them with ulterior motives. 7) Always compare yourself unfavorably to others, which is the guarantee of instant misery. 8) Take personally, with a chip on your shoulder, everything that happens to you that you don’t like. 9) Don’t give yourself wholeheartedly or enthusiastically to anyone or anything. 10) Make unhappiness the aim of your life, instead of bracing life’s barbs through a “bitter with the sweet” philosophy.
Follow this prescription without fail and you will find yourself in middle of misery. Most normal people set out toward the destination of unhappiness. Many however, including Christians arrive at this destination.
Paul is giving instruction for us as followers of Christ as to how we can lives as victors of Christ. He gives clear and practical instruction on how to have a life that is free from worry that is wrapped in peace. Jonathan Edwards put it this way: “The ideas and images in men’s minds are the invisible powers that constantly govern them.” Victory in our spiritual life is governed by our thought life!
I. Live victoriously
Stand firm – Standing firm does not mean standing still. Standing firm in Jesus Christ is advancing in your walk with Jesus. Paul is commanding us and challenging us to stand on the victory of Jesus. It is a call for a consistent walk in the Spirit of God even with the daily pressures we face. Daily pressures in life seek to gradually press us away from our commitment and dependence on Jesus. The pressures are duties, occupations, activities, social expectations, as the song says “It is a slow fade.” A child’s top remains upright as long as it is moving. A man on a bike remains stable so long as he continues to make forward movement. The same is true for us as followers of Christ. Again standing firm does not mean standing still. It is standing in the victory that Jesus gives. Moses stood with His hands upraised while the children of Israel fought. It wasn’t their fighting ability but God’s blessing.
A few years ago Jack Eckerd, founder of the Eckerd drugstore chain, committed his life to Christ. Shortly afterward, as he walked through one of his stores, he noticed the magazine racks with their glossy copies of "Playboy" and "Penthouse." Although Eckerd was retired from active management, he called the president of the company and urged him to get rid of those porn magazines. The president protested because substantial profits were gained from their sales. Being the largest stockholder, Eckerd himself stood to lose a lot of money by such a decision. But he remained firm in his objection, and he prevailed. The offensive magazines were removed from all 1700 drugstores. When he was asked what motivated him to take this action, Eckerd replied, "God wouldn’t let me off the hook!"
A) Don’t be divisive (harmony) (Illustration of two brothers)
Paul was constantly encouraging unity and here He challenges Euodia and Synteche to agree in the Lord. Jesus Himself said a house divided against itself cannot stand. We cannot advance with Jesus if we do not advance together.
The story is told of two brothers who grew up on a farm. One went away to college, earned a law degree, and became a partner in a prominent law firm in the state capital. The other brother stayed on the family farm. One day the lawyer came and visited his brother, the farmer. He asked, “Why don’t you go out and make a name for yourself and hold your head up high in the world as I do?” The brother pointed and said, “See that field of wheat over there? Look closely. Only the empty heads stand up. Those that are well filled always bow low.” Said differently, “The branch that bears the most fruit is bent the lowest to the ground.” An old ditty goes, “It needs more skill than I can tell, to play the second fiddle well.” Leonard Bernstein was once asked which instrument was the most difficult to play. He thought for a moment, then replied, “The second fiddle. I can get plenty of first violinists, but to find someone who can play the second fiddle with enthusiasm – that’s a problem. And if we have no second fiddle we have no harmony.”