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Philippians 4:2-9 - Maintaining Unity

Philippians  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Introduction

- Maintaining / Regaining Unity
Introduction
This passage is where all the previous doctrinal truths really come together.
As long as there are people, there will be conflict: Cain and Abel. Jacob and Esau. David and Saul. Even Paul had a disagreement with Barnabas, one so bitter that they stopped working together.
Cain and Abel.
Jacob and Esau.
David and Saul.
Even Paul had a disagreement with Barnabas, one so bitter that they stopped working together.
Sometimes conflict is necessary.
There are times when conflict arises over truth, and truth must prevail. There are times when conflict arises over sin, and holiness must prevail.
There are times when conflict arises over sin, and holiness must prevail.
Now, we don't know what the conflict was between Euodia and Syntyche, but we know what it wasn't. It wasn't a doctrinal issue; Paul would have corrected it. It wasn't a sin issue; Paul would have rebuked it.
It wasn't a doctrinal issue; Paul would have corrected it.
There was no justification for their disagreement.
It wasn't a sin issue; Paul would have rebuked it.
We should understand that these women were mature, faithful Christians who gave their lives for the Gospel. But their devotion and maturity didn't safeguard them against arguing over non-issues, over preferences or opinions or inclinations.
These women are mature, faithful Christians who have given their lives for the Gospel.
But their devotion and maturity didn't safeguard them against arguing over non-issues, over preferences or opinions or inclinations.
There is nothing wrong with having preferences and opinions, but our opinions and preferences can’t bear the strain of unifying us.
Our immaturity makes us want to win arguments. Our ignorance causes us to assume that we know more than others. Our pride causes us to be insulted when others disagree. Our conscience causes us to justify our own behavior while accusing others.
Our ignorance causes us to assume that we know more than others.
Our pride causes us to be insulted when others disagree.
Our conscience causes us to justify our own behavior while accusing others.
Euodia and Syntyche both wanted to make their opinion or preference the basis for unity.
When their unity, based on something so fragile and unsubstantial, collapsed in on itself, it became public and harmed the church.
When their unity, based on something that fragile, collapsed in on itself, it became public and harmed the church.
So Paul reminds us how to be truly unified in the Lord.

AGREE in the Lord

Philippians 4:2–3 ESV
I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.
There is no hope of unity apart from the Lord Jesus Christ.
I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women [agree in the Lord], who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. ()
There is no hope of unity apart from the Lord Jesus Christ.
Nothing less than Christ Himself can bear the pressure and strain of holding sinners in peaceful intimacy with one another.
People want agreement over all sorts of things.
I’ve known people to want to unify the church over:
Their view of the end times.
A translation of the Bible.
Having the building decorated in a certain way.
Musical styles.
Liturgies.
The Body of Christ is made up of men, women, and children of every tongue, tribe, ethnicity, and family.
Unity is only possible if we rise above human experience, opinion, and preference, and focus on the Lord Jesus.

REJOICE in the Lord

Philippians 4:4 ESV
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice [in the Lord]. ()
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice [in the Lord]. ()
In every circumstance, find your joy in the Lord.
We should not look for or accept lesser reasons for joy.
We should rejoice in the Lord Jesus.
You might remember that Jesus sent 72 of His disciples out on a short-term preaching trip.
He gave them clear instructions about how to travel, how to find a place to stay, and what to do; they were to heal the sick and preach the kingdom of God.
They returned with joy, saying “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name!”
Jesus said to them,
Luke 10:20 ESV
Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
"Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” ()
Even success in life and ministry are inferior reasons for joy.
There is only one focus of joy that will never fail: Jesus Christ.
If we rejoice in our successes, what happens when we fail?
If we rejoice in our relationships, what happens when others let us down?
If we rejoice in our possessions, what happens when we lose them?
But because of the promise of God, we know that no name written in heaven in the Lamb’s book of life (, ) will ever be erased.
That joy is eternal because the basis of it is eternal.
Let us rejoice in the Lord!

YIELD in the Lord

Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. ()
Philippians 4:5 ESV
Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand;
The word “reasonableness” – your Bible might say “gentle spirit” or “gentleness” – is a little tricky to translate.
The word “reasonableness” – your Bible might say “gentle spirit” or “gentleness” – is a little tricky to translate.
The sense is being reason-able, that you can be reasoned with.
In the context of relationships and conflict, it means that you are winnable, that you are eager for reconciliation and restoration.
I think the best way to summarize the idea is to say that we are to yield to one another in the Lord.
We find this throughout the Scriptures:
Psalm 37:8 ESV
Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. ()
Proverbs 15:1 ESV
A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. ()
Ephesians 4:31–32 ESV
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. ()
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. ()
We are like a sports team – we swing from offense to defense and back again.
We are like a sports team – we swing from offense to defense and back again.
Because we are sinners, we offend people.
Because other people are sinners, they offend us.
When we offend others, we are to be humble and contrite, and long for peace.
When we are offended by others, we are to be reason-able, win-able, eager to forgive.
It’s hard to admit that we are wrong, but it is equally hard to forgive those who have wronged us.
Maybe that’s why the focus on reconciliation in the epistles is not on the Offender, but on the Offended.
puts it this way:
Romans 12:18 ESV
If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. ()
We can’t make others act this way, but we can govern ourselves, with the help of the Holy Spirit, and yield to others in the Lord.
We can’t make others act this way, but we can govern ourselves, with the help of the Holy Spirit, and yield to others in the Lord.

TRUST in the Lord

Philippians 4:5–6 ESV
Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
I know I’m stopping in the middle of a phrase, but I think it’s worth doing.
The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything … ()
I know I’m stopping in the middle of a phrase, but I think it’s worth doing.
We’ve all had people say to us when we are afraid or anxious, “Don’t worry about it … worrying won’t make it better,” and things of that nature.
Think about the last time someone said to you, “Well, don’t worry about it.”
Did it help?
Did it bring peace?
Of course not.
We are sinners who live in a fallen world.
Children walk into schools with guns and kill other children.
Cancer and disease ravages lives.
I look at what is coming in our world, and I can easily be afraid for my grandchildren; I suppose my parents felt the same, but that’s because this world is flat out busted.
Paul says that the Lord is at hand.
That doesn’t mean that He’s coming soon, but that He is near enough to touch; He is at hand.
In the midst of the crises of life, the Lord is near to His people.
He is right there with you today, near enough to touch; He is at hand.
In fact, since you are the temple of the Holy Spirit, who has taken up permanent residence with you, we could say that the Lord is nearer than near.
Paul might have been thinking about his own life.
His journey to house arrest in Rome began with a riot in Jerusalem; it became so violent that the Roman authorities took him into protective custody, which is very much like a pride of lions rescuing a lamb from a pack of wolves!
Luke writes that the night after Paul was taken into custody,
Acts 23:11 ESV
The following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome.”
the Lord stood by him and said, “Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome.” ()
The Lord stood by him; the Lord was near to Him; the Lord was at hand.
The Lord stood by him; the Lord was near to Him; the Lord was at hand.
Paul wasn’t alone that night, or ever.
You are not alone, ever.
You have the living, active Word of God in your hands. Take your Bible and open it – Jesus is speaking.
You have the Holy Spirit dwelling within you, sanctifying you by His very presence within you. Jesus called the Holy Spirit a Comforter, and He is truly that.
So, trust that He is with you in the pain and confusion and hardship of life, no matter what it is, or why it happened.

PRAY to the Lord

Philippians 4:6–7 ESV
do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
What should you pray about?
in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. ()
What should you pray about?
Anything and everything you worry about.
How should you pray?
First, pray – talk to the Lord, speak to Him, use your words.
Second, supplicate before Him; that means appeal to Him from your heart and soul.
Third, give thanks before He answers, while you are praying and supplicating.
Fourth, be specific; let your requests be made known to God.
There is a promised result:
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. ()
For the sake of full disclosure, I have to point out that Paul doesn’t say in verse 7, “And God will give you exactly what you asked for,” but “And the peace of God will guard your heart and mind in Christ.”
You might not think this is true, but it is: the peace of God is better than ANY answer to prayer.
The peace of God is God’s own peace: perfect, unshakeable, certain, content, joyful.
I think that it would be a fantastic miracle for God to supernaturally heal someone of cancer.
I believe that it is a far greater miracle for God to not heal that person, but to sustain them so wonderfully that they live in peace and joy in spite of their circumstances.
That’s the lesson of Job: God Himself is better than any healing.
What we really need is not the immediate thing that we want, whether it’s healing, or finances, or an end to the violence around us, or the turmoil in our lives.
What we really need is peace that can’t be shaken and can’t be lost; the peace of God.
Put your faith in the Lord and pray.
You might get the very thing you asked for.
You might die.
But regardless of the outcome, the incomprehensible peace of God will guard your heart and mind.

THINK in the Lord

Philippians 4:8 ESV
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. ()
The word think appears at the end of verse 8, and it means to ponder, reflect on, let your mind dwell on, to really focus your mind and thoughts on something.
The word think appears at the end of verse 8, and it means to ponder, reflect on, let your mind dwell on, to really focus your mind and thoughts on something.
Now, we’ve seen that everything that the Word has commanded in this passage has centered around the Triune God:
Agree in the Lord.
Rejoice in the Lord.
Yield in the Lord.
Trust in the Lord.
Pray to the Lord.
doesn’t shift the foundation from the Lord to us.
No, Paul stays firmly planted right where he has been all along, tightly bound to the sufficiency and primacy of Jesus Christ in absolutely every area of life.
We are to think about:
What the Lord says is true.
What the Lord says is honorable.
What the Lord says is just.
What the Lord says is pure.
What the Lord says is lovely.
What the Lord says is commendable.
What the Lord says is excellent.
What the Lord says is worthy of His praise.
How do we know what these things are?
Do we have to guess?
Not at all – God has given them to us in writing; they are revealed in His Word.
We can know what the Lord says is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy by saturating ourselves in the Scripture.

ACT in the Lord

Philippians 4:9 ESV
What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
What Paul has written is not theoretical, but incredibly practical.
What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. ()
What Paul has written is not theoretical, but incredibly practical.
Nothing he says here is new to the Philippians or the church.
These are truths that he has consistently taught and also demonstrated by his personal example.
They learned, received, and heard the Word of God from Paul.
They saw him living by the Word of God in a variety of circumstances.
is full of doing.
It’s energetic, active, vigorous.
It sets the bar high, and calls us up and out of our corrupt flesh.
If you have ever thought to yourself, "I wish I could have the faith of the apostle Paul," then here's your chance.
There is an old hymn that says, "It is no secret what God can do."
Well, there is no secret to spiritual maturity;
to unity in the church;
to peace with God;
to a clean, light conscience;
to godliness with contentment, which is great gain.
Agree, rejoice, yield, trust, and pray to the Lord, and the peace of God will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.
Think biblically, soundly, as is described here, and live out what you have learned in the Word, and the God of peace will be with you.
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