Philippians 4:1-3 ESV
Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.
I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.
What does it mean to “stand firm” in the Lord? And, how does that work with agreeing in the Lord with our brothers and sisters in Christ who may think differently than we do about what the Bible teaches on certain subjects? Can we all agree in the Lord together and still stand firm in the Lord? And, if so, then how so? For, I don’t have all the answers here.
So, I am praying about how to answer these questions right now myself, and I am inquiring of the Lord to direct me in how to answer these questions. And, I would welcome your thoughts on this subject as well, even as I will now share with you what I believe the Lord is teaching me here.
To stand firm in the Lord, I believe, is to remain steadfast in our faith in Jesus Christ, a faith that is divinely persuaded and is a gift from God to us. It is to know what the scriptures teach, in context, regarding that faith, and it is to put that faith into practice in our daily lives, in God’s strength and power at work within our hearts, which is where he now dwells by his Spirit.
I believe it is also to share that faith with others so that they, too, can not only know Jesus Christ as Lord and as Savior of their lives, but so that they can grow to maturity in Christ, too, and walk according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh. And, it is to encourage one another and to build one another up in the faith, which includes urging one another to walk in holiness and righteousness and to forsake our idols, as well.
With regard to agreeing with one another, first off I think that we need to not see each other as competition. We need to not be afraid of other true believers in Christ sharing with us what the Lord is teaching them, or what the Lord is leading them to share with us personally regarding our walks of faith in Jesus Christ. For, this is what scripture teaches us to do, so that none of us will be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness and fall into sin.
We also need to not be afraid of discussing differences in beliefs and of hearing others out, provided what they believe can be supported scripturally, that is. Yet, we should never get into heated discussions with other believers about any subject, nor should we ever be nasty or falsely judge others based on human logic or reasoning, or based on our own thinking or prejudice.
But, we can have friendly discussions, and we may even be led, at times, to change our thinking on a particular subject, because our knowledge of that subject could be expanded during such discussions. For, not one of us knows everything. And, a lot of us had stuff ingrained in us from early on that we learned wrongly, too, and that needs to have a change of thinking.
But, if after such discussions, we still don’t agree on everything, then I believe we can agree to disagree, and then just trust that other person and ourselves into the hands of the Lord to work his will in our hearts and lives, and to teach each of us what he wants us to learn through it all.
And, I believe this would still be standing firm in the Lord, as well as it would be agreeing in the Lord, by not letting our differences divide us, but that we may still have harmony with one another by not trying to force our beliefs, and by letting God work in all of our hearts for his purposes and for his glory. Yet, this in no way involves compromising on sin or on the essentials of the teachings on holiness and on godliness, as required by God.
Philippians 4:4-7 ESV
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
And, continuing on with that same subject, when we have such disagreements over what the scriptures teach or over biblical interpretation, we need to not get anxious over it. We need to not be afraid of differences of opinion or thinking or beliefs. And, definitely we are not to get angry or personally defensive, though we can defend the scriptures kindly.
But, if we are convinced that what we believe is the truth, the unadulterated truth of God’s Word, and if we believe that what others believe, or don’t believe, is critical to their salvation from sin and/or to their walks of faith with our Lord, then we should let our reasonableness be known to them. For, this word “reasonableness” not only means “gentleness” but it also means what is “fitting, equitable and fair.” And, it means to build on the intent of what is really at stake, i.e. on the spirit of the law (1).
For example, Jesus taught much on the spirit of the law, and in some cases he showed how the spirit of the law was actually stricter than the law itself. For, he taught that adultery was not just the physical act of having sex with someone with whom we are not married but that it was to lust in one’s heart after someone with whom one is not married. And, to hate was to murder.
And, in other cases he showed the spirit of the law to be less strict, if the law had to do with rules regarding forms, rituals, and ceremonies. There he focused on the intent of the law, not the letter of the law, for some people exercised the letter of the law to the extent that they killed the human spirit, and to where they were not acting in divine love, one for the other.
Yet, regarding God’s moral laws he did not bend, but he showed the reasonableness of the strictness of God’s moral laws by expanding on the laws themselves to reveal truly the heart issues behind immorality. Yet, He was never lacking in love or mercy to those caught in sin, for he came to save sinners from their sin. He did appeal to them, though, to repent of their sins and to follow him in obedience, and to go and sin no more.
Yet, back to the primary subject at hand here, no matter what we face with regard to disagreements with other believers, we are to make our requests known to God, and to call on him in faith, asking him for his wisdom and direction, and for the words to say.
And, even if we do and say all the right things, and others do not respond in love to us, and with kindness, we are to rejoice in the Lord, give it over to the Lord in prayer, and then the peace of God will fill our hearts and minds, and will guard our minds and hearts against fear, and against responding in ways which would not be for the honor and glory of God.
Philippians 4:8-9 ESV
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
Finally, or at least in conclusion of this present discussion, if we have our minds set on the Lord and on the right things, and if our focus is on God and not on ourselves, and if we are truly loving others as we love ourselves, then we should not get into fights and quarrels with other believers when we don’t agree in the Lord together on everything or on anything in particular.
But, we should be thinking about what is best for that other person, i.e. what is God’s best for that other person (or other people). And, so our responses to them should be pure of heart and of purpose.
For, we will want to know the truth that sets people free, and we will be willing to seek out the Lord and to study his word and to learn the truth, too. And, that is because our desire is for the Lord to do his will and to walk in his ways. And, so we will want to do what leads to peace, too, yet never at the cost of sacrificing the foundational truths regarding our salvation, and never at the cost of sacrificing holiness and godliness.
Now, please feel free to share your thoughts on this subject, too.
Mighty in Power
An Original Work / June 17, 2019
Jesus, our Savior, reigneth forever;
Mighty in power, His name we honor.
He’s our refuge from all evil.
God our righteous, He’s our fill.
He satisfies us with all His blessings.
We magnify Him. Our praise to Him sing.
Glory and honor, praise to the Father,
Perfect in wisdom, He is our vision.
He delivered us from all sin
So, in Christ, we’d be forgiven.
He purifies us. His love will guide us.
He is beside us, holy and righteous.
Our Holy Spirit, comfort in sorrow,
Strength in our weakness, hope for tomorrow.
He gives courage to be bold in
Witnessing for Jesus Christ.
He teaches all things about our Savior.
New life in Jesus, we found His favor.
Thursday, September 12, 2019