Daily Devotion – October 5, 2020 – Dr. Pat Taylor Ellison
4:1 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved.
4:2 I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord.
4:3 Yes, and I ask you also, my loyal companion, help these women, for they have struggled beside me in the work of the gospel, together with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.
4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.
4:5 Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.
4:6 Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
4:7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
4:8 Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
4:9 Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.
Philippi was an ancient Greek town, named for Philip of Macedon, Alexander the Great’s father. It became a full fledged city only because the battle between the forces of Marc Antony and Brutus (right after the assassination of Julius Caesar) took place there, and Rome rarely recalled battalions to Rome but instead settled them right where they ended the fighting. So Philippi was basically an army town about 100 years old in Paul’s day.
Paul writes his letter to them to urge them to get past an internal conflict by having, together as a community, the mind of Christ, and by working together for what Christ would want done in their city. The two women named in this chapter have clearly done ministry with Paul, along with many others.
He tells them to focus on rejoicing in God, to give thanks, to pray and supplicate, together, as a community (all the yous are plural), and when they do this, they will have peace beyond understanding, a big claim for a town of army descendants. He says in verse 9, “The God of peace will be with you.”
When we are beset by disagreements, when our friends are embroiled in conflict, sometimes the only way to even get air into the room to keep everyone breathing is to focus on a third thing. Paul is suggesting that that third thing is the mind of Christ, which we all have as Christ’s followers. So no matter what the conflict, if one finds unity in the mind of Christ, one can usually figure out solutions to problems as well as reconciliation with one another.
If you have ever suffered in a conflict situation, or if you are weary of conflict in our country and our world at this time, if we can sit in the same room with those who disagree and seek to dwell with them in whatever we have been given in common by God, we should be able to find a way to listen, to learn, and to find the necessary unity, even tiny, that can give us grounds to come to terms. And look at the reward: the God of peace will be with us. If we try this week to sit with or listen to someone we have something in common with but have fallen into conflict with, we will see that peace Paul describes.
Gracious God, Thank you for loving us. Thank you for reminding us, through Paul and the Philippians, that if we share the mind of Christ, you will give us peace. Amen.