SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- Paul asks two women (whom we know nothing else about) to end their quarrel and mend their relationship, and asks the rest of the church to help these two ladies reconcile.
- We're told that we can rejoice always, and choose to never be anxious about anything. Why? Because the "Lord is near" (verse 5) and invites us to talk to Him about everything (verse 6).
- We're encouraged to discipline our minds to focus on positive things (verse 8) rather than the things that make us anxious.
- Paul declares that he has learned the secret of being able to be content in any and every situation: knowing the Lord is near and talking to Him about everything.
- Paul spends most of the conclusion of this letter thanking the Philippians for giving back to God by contributing financially to his ministry (verses 10-20).
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
- We have the opportunity to live a very different kind of life. One marked by unity instead of division, by joy instead of sadness, by peace instead of anxiety, and contentment instead of dissatisfaction. You can live that life. But the key is not self-help, it's relying on God's help. This life comes not when we dwell on what we don't have, but when we talk to God about what we need, trusting Him, and we're thankful for what we have - mostly a relationship with God Himself, and we focus our thoughts on what is right, pure, etc.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- Is your life characterized more by division, sadness, anxiety and dissatisfaction, or unity, joy, peace, and contentment? Which would you rather? You have a choice. You are not a victim of your circumstances. That life comes when we make the decision and a daily effort to focus on God and what's right, rather than on what's wrong. So make that decision right now. And think about what might help you to live out that decision moment-by-moment the rest of the day and this week.
- If a "Bible letter" was written to you, would you be commended for generously giving back to God, as the Philippians were? Or are you honestly ignoring God and His Kingdom when it comes to finances, and spending all your money on you? How can you get to a place where you give back to God generously as He repeatedly commands you to? How might the idea that God promises to meet all your needs help you?