Philippians 4:4-7 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 every situation, 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.”
Rejoice in the Lord Always
So, I looked up this word “rejoice” in the Interlinear on Bible Hub. Yes, it means to express joy and to be glad, but it has a deeper meaning, too. It means to delight in God’s grace, in his favor towards us who believe on Jesus Christ, God the Son.
So, what is God’s grace to us? It is his kindness, his favor toward us. It was expressed to us in Jesus Christ, God the Son, dying on a cross to put our sins to death so that we could be delivered from our slavery to sin via dying with him to sin and being raised with him to new life in him (Rom 6:1-23).
His grace, though, is not free license to continue living in sin, only now without guilt. That isn’t grace if it leaves you still in slavery to sin.
For, God’s grace, which brings salvation, trains (instructs) us to say “No!” to ungodliness and fleshly lusts and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (Tit 2:11-14; cf. Eph 4:17-24).
So, if we are rejoicing in the Lord always, that means we are always (continually) delighting in his grace. It means that we find great joy and extreme satisfaction in our Lord and in his grace to us which frees us from our slavery to sin and which empowers us to live righteously.
So, that also means that we delight (have great joy) in being set free from our addiction to sin and in walking in his holiness and righteousness. We find great pleasure in living to please our Lord in all that we do, in submitting to his Lordship over our lives, and in walking in his truth day by day.
Let Your Gentleness be Evident
Gentleness is not weakness. Jesus was gentle, but he wasn’t weak. Gentleness is not compromise with the world or refusal to speak the truth in love so as not to offend others. Gentleness is controlled strength. It is reasonableness, fairness, and justice. It is honest and free from self-interest.
So, being gentle towards others does not mean we will lie to them so as not to hurt their feelings. Yet, it doesn’t mean we will be obtuse, either. It doesn’t mean we are not sensitive to or considerate of other people’s feelings. But it means we are honest, but with grace and kindness.
We can speak the truth in love to others without hitting them over the head with a baseball bat, so to speak. We don’t have to be harsh, but lack of harshness is never to be translated into watering down the truth of the gospel to make it less offensive and more acceptable to others.
So, there is a balance here. There are times when we must speak more forcefully, usually when it comes to false teachers and teachings which are leading people astray, or when it comes to combatting the lies of the enemy that he whispers to us or that he tells others.
But generally speaking, we should speak with grace, seasoned with salt. Our message is not to be all sugary sweet, for that is not truth, but it isn’t to be so harsh that it hurts the cause of Christ and is opposite of loving others, either. Basically, if we follow Jesus’ example, we will do well.
Do Not Be Anxious
We are not to be fearful or frightened about anything. This is not to say that we won’t ever feel fear, for that is a natural human emotion which God has given to us so that we will walk in the fear of the Lord, in treating him with honor and respect, and so we will respect danger and avoid it, if possible.
But we are not to be controlled by fear. We can feel the fear and do what we need to do anyway with the courage and strength that God gives to us. For example, Paul felt fear. He said that he came to the Corinthians in weakness and with great fear and trembling, but that did not hinder him from speaking the truth of the gospel of Christ nor lead him to compromise the truth.
We can overcome fear in the strength of the Lord when we refuse to give in to the emotion of fear and we choose to trust the Lord and to walk by faith, instead. Fear is one of Satan’s biggest weapons he uses against us, that and his lies he tells us, too. So, we need to put on our armor of God and fight against those feelings of fear with the truth (Eph 6:10-20).
So, when we feel fear, we need to pray. We need to ask the Lord if he is trying to warn us against something, for he may be doing that, and the feeling of fear (caution) may be letting us know not to go a certain direction. But that calls for much wisdom and discernment from the Lord.
When we pray, we need to ask the Lord where the feeling of fear is coming from and then we need to deal with it accordingly. He may need to do a healing work in our hearts and minds due to past hurts or past failures or past abuses. Or we may be feeling fearful out of lack of trust in the Lord and in his sovereignty over our lives. And so, we may need to trust him fully.
And we need to give our fears (anxieties) over to the Lord in prayer, letting him do his work in our hearts and lives in changing us to be more like him, thanking him for these opportunities to have him do his work in our hearts. And every time we feel fear, we need to yield to the Lord’s control.
When we give our fears over to God, and we learn to trust him in all our circumstances, and we learn to trust in his complete sovereignty, not just over our lives, but over everything which he has made, then the peace comes. And that is because we are walking by faith and not by sight.
So, in all of these things, whether we are learning to be truly joyful and thankful always, or whether we are learning how to be gentle while still speaking the truth in love, or whether we are learning to overcome our fears in the strength of the Lord, we must follow our Lord in surrender to his will, and we must do what he says. And then we can live in perfect peace.
Seek the Lord
An Original Work / July 20, 2012
Based off Isaiah 55
“Come to Me all you who thirst; come to waters.
Listen to Me, and eat what’s good today,
And your soul will delight in richest of fare.
Give ear to Me, and you will live.
I have made an eternal covenant with you.
Wash in the blood of the Lamb.”
Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him.
Let the wicked forsake his way, in truth.
Let him turn to the Lord, and he will receive mercy.
Freely, God pardons him.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,”
declares the Lord, our God.
“My word that goes out of My mouth is truthful.
It will not return to Me unfulfilled.
My word will accomplish all that I desire,
And achieve the goal I intend.
You will go in joy, and be led forth in peace.
The mountains will burst into song… before you,
And all of the trees clap their hands.”