Pleas for Unity
in the Lord (4:2-3)
Be Joyful and
The same mind in
the Lord, Book of Life, rejoice, be anxious for nothing, true, noble, just,
pure, lovely, good report.
Paul reminds the believers the
basis and reasons for unity—that they all have one Lord, that they all labor
for the same gospel, and that they all have a share in the Book of Life. Unity
among believers is possible and necessary because of their spiritual ties and
The register in heaven of those
who are saved.
Paul repeats the command to
rejoice probably because it is easy to be discouraged in the midst of
sufferings, disharmony, and the threat of false teachings. But Paul wants them
to transcend all these difficulties and live above the problems of life by
having the joy of the Lord, for joy is the key to a victorious life. Paul’s
emphatic exhortation is also an expression of the overflowing joy in him.
Following the command to
rejoice, Paul presents the peace of God as the basis of joy and teaches us how
to receive that peace. Peace from God is the foundation of true joy.
Happiness is an emotion. Joy is
an attitude. Happiness is based on the circumstance. Joy is founded on Christ.
Therefore, in order to have true joy, we need to have a Christ-centered
attitude. While our circumstances may change, our Lord does not change. He has
overcome the world, and through faith in Him, we can transcend problems and
difficulties in life. If we have Christ in our lives, no circumstance can take
away our joy.
Paul is in chains, but he can
still exhort the believers to rejoice. This is a powerful demonstration that
Paul’s joy surpasses his adverse conditions. Not only so, his joy overflows to
others, bringing comfort and encouragement.
We need to show gentleness to
all, not just the people we favor.
Gentleness involves great
patience because it requires us to deal kindly even with those who are against
us. When there is disharmony among believers, showing gentleness can be a great
challenge. But instead of arguing and complaining, we should wait for the
coming of the Lord, who will judge everyone according to their deeds. Knowing
that the Lord is coming soon to examine our works and reward us encourages us
to persist in our gentleness (cf. Jas 5:8).
“In everything by prayer and supplication,
with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (4:6). When we cast
our cares on the Lord (Ps 55:22; 1Pet 5:7), we have no need to be anxious
because we trust that He will take care of us. Being thankful always also
relieves us of our anxiety because, by counting the blessings of God, we are
constantly reminded that God will always watch over us, just as He always has.
Anxiety does not solve problems
but only adds burdens to our hearts (cf. Mt 6:27,34; Lk 12:25-26). Besides, knowing that God will take care of
our needs, why should we be anxious?
God’s peace can give us an inner tranquility
so miraculous that it is beyond rational explanation. 2. God’s peace can calm
our hearts so perfectly in ways that our own attempt to alleviate anxiety by
means of reasoning or positive thinking can never do.
The peace that the world gives
only provides a temporary sense of security that is easily unsettled when
trouble comes. For example, we may pay for health insurance, but when we become
ill, the insurance cannot help us deal with our sorrows, fears, or depressions
within. The peace from God, however, goes much deeper. It does not necessarily
change the circumstance or remove the difficulties we face, but it is able to
give us inner joy and strength to overcome the difficulties.
Godly conduct begins with godly
thoughts. What we put into our mind determines what comes out in our words and
actions (Mt 15:18-19). We must reprogram our thinking. It takes practice, but
it can be done. Fill our hearts with the Word of God and ask God to help us
focus our mind on what is good and pure (cf. Ps 139:23-24).
We must do the word of God (9).
Verses 6 and 7 teach us to let
the peace of God keep our hearts and minds from anxieties through prayer,
petition, and thanksgiving. Verses 8 and 9 go even further and teach us the way
to have God’s continual presence in our lives. If we do God’s Word, God
Himself, the author of peace, will be with us at all times. Therefore, not only
should we come to God for peace when we have trouble in our lives, we should
all the more seek to let the God of peace dwell in us by living out His Word.
When God’s living Word is embodied in our lives, we will naturally experience
God and all His blessings.