Run to God in prayer so God’s peace – right relationship with him, the joy of being his child, in his care, and it not all depending on you – guards your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. They must train themselves to think about the things around them that are excellent and praiseworthy not just the brokenness.
So one of the first things we need to do is stop seeing joy and hardship as opposites or adversaries. To stop making our joy circumstantial.
Sometimes in a bible passage there’s a thread that runs through the passage, sometimes there are lots. In Philippians 4 there’s “in the Lord”. It’s key. They’re to “stand firm in the Lord”, to help Euodia and Syntyche “agree in the Lord”. And they are to rejoice in the Lord. All of his instructions are to be worked out in that context, as people who are in the Lord.
It’s a joy that has a certain hope in Jesus return(5) and so knows God is near, that his kingdom is certain and our hope is sure that leads us to gentleness and graciousness with others not a manipulative power tripping leadership. It’s rejoicing in Jesus that enables us to care for the weak and injured not exploit them.
And it’s rejoicing in the Lord that will lead us to be quick to prayer and praise(6-8) when we feeling anxious, because we know he cares for us and wants us to give him our burdens and anxieties. And so we run to him because our joy is in him. And what flows from that is peace, an awareness of and a living out of the reality of a restored relationship and being God’s child and in his sovereign care. That peace will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Living out of that awareness of who we are stops the shouts of imposter, loser, or failure, that fuel our anxiety and drain us in ministry.
But that’s hard isn’t it. Paul longs for the Philippians to know peace(7, 9) and he tells them how to practice peace. Our thoughts often feed our anxieties, they drain our joy, don’t they? And so he calls on them to think of whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy. He’s not saying ignore the brokenness of the world, ignore the sin you see and the damage it does. Keep pastoral crises and complexities at a distance so you know peace, that’s professionalism not godliness. That’s not what he’s teaching them. But run to God in prayer so God’s peace – right relationship with him, the joy of being his child, in his care, and it not all depending on you – guards your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. They must train themselves to think about the things around them that are excellent and praiseworthy not just the brokenness.
Are you an optimist or are you from Yorkshire, sorry, I mean a pessimist? When you think about your church what comes to mind? Isn’t it often the failures, the families that have left. The person who showed interest but was dragged back into their old way of life, by drugs, or alcohol, or an unhelpful relationship. Isn’t it how you are short of musicians, or leaders, or diversity, or money? Or the spiritual immaturity of the congregations, the lack of growth, the unwise decisions?