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Philippians 4:2-9 - Rising in Peace

Philippians - Joy for the Journey  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  37:29
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We live daily in God's peace as we die daily with Christ

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Introduction

One of the foundational principles that we encourage as you are learning to read the Bible for yourself is to look at words or phrases or ideas that are repeated within a passage. And as we read our text for this morning you may have noticed that Paul refers twice to “peace”— verse 7,
Philippians 4:7 ESV
7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
and in verse 9
Philippians 4:9 ESV
9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
So in verse 7 you have “the peace of God” and in verse 9 “the God of peace”. And I don’t think it’s a stretch to see the idea of peace (if not the word) in verses 2-3, either—what is Paul calling for there if not “peace” between Euodia and Syntyche?
Here as Paul is coming to the end of his letter to the Philippians, he is weaving the promise of peace throughout these verses. We saw last week how Paul encouraged his readers to stand their ground as colonists of the Kingdom of Christ:
Philippians 4:1 ESV
1 Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.
And in the same way he is encouraging his readers to live in the peace that they are promised in Christ. As we go through these verses this morning, this is what I want us to take away:
We RISE daily in God’s PEACE as we DIE daily with Christ
Peace is in short supply these days, isn’t it? Whether it’s growing anxiety over the cascading dysfunction of our government and political discourse and the threats to our religious liberties and Constitutional rights that follow, or a personal issue with health or finances or relationships, people are desperate for some respite from it all, some place where they can escape all of the turmoil and just find rest. But if you have come in repentance and faith to Jesus Christ—if you have died with Him in repentance for your sins and have been raised to new life in Him by faith—then you have a promise of daily peace with Him that goes far beyond anything this world can offer you! You rise daily in God’s peace as you die daily with Christ.
Look at Philippians 4:2-3:
Philippians 4:2–3 ESV
2 I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. 3 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.
The first appeal to peace in our passage this morning comes right here in verses 2-3:

I. Peace with ONE ANOTHER by dying to EGO (Philippians 4:2-3)

We’ve mentioned these two ladies a few times as we’ve worked through Paul’s letter, but let’s take a few moments to consider what we can learn about them from these verses. Verse 3 tells us that they were involved in some kind of ministry there in the church in Philippi—Paul says that they “have labored side-by-side with me in the Gospel...”
And it is notable that Paul does not give any specifics about what the source of their disagreement was. We don’t really know what they were disagreeing over, but I think it’s safe to say that if it were a matter of sin—if the source of their disagreement was some kind of sin on the part of one or the other, Paul would certainly have addressed it (as he does in several other places in his letters.) We can also rule out some kind of doctrinal disagreement for the same reason—if the source of their disagreement was that one of them was advocating some kind of heresy or false doctrine, you can be sure Paul would have waded in without hesitation!
So whatever is going on here, Paul doesn’t really care about what the resolution is—he just wants them to come to a resolution! And the way that he says it here is instructive: He says “I entreat Euodia and Syntyche to agree in the Lord”. The phrase in the original Greek here is the same as his command in Chapter 2 to “be of the same mind”
Philippians 2:2 ESV
2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.
And he uses much the same structure a couple verses later when he writes
Philippians 2:5 ESV
5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,
So I think it’s clear here that Paul is instructing Euodia and Syntyche to
SHARE the MIND of Christ
in order to settle their dispute. And having the mind of Christ means
Philippians 2:3–4 ESV
3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Here is the pattern for us when we run into those relational bumps in the road—particularly in the setting of our church. When you find yourself in a disagreement with a brother or sister in Christ (that is not a matter of sin and not a matter of doctrine) but a matter of a preference or priority for ministry or any other choice between multiple good things, you can come to a place of peace with each other when you both reckon that you share the mind of Christ!
The mind of Christ that esteems them better than yourself—the mind of Christ that doesn’t seek its own glory or its own advancement, but desires to see God’s glory magnified. Consider—when you are at odds with someone else over a decision in the church, you can rest in the knowledge that the same Holy Spirit that dwells in you dwells in them too! You can reckon that God is leading them too, and they may see something that you don’t see—they may have a perspective or may have a solution that you just haven’t come across.
Unlike the world around us that says you need to fight to the death to win at any cost, the freedom that you have to die to your ego and rest in the knowledge that God is leading you both brings a great deal of peace into your relationships. It’s the freedom to do what the world can’t bring itself to do in its fights—the freedom to
Lay down your PREFERENCES (cp. Acts 15:36-41)
I can’t help but wonder if Paul doesn’t make it a point to plead with these women to reckon on the mind of Christ in each other to settle their dispute because he remembers the dispute that he had with a co-laborer in Acts 15. Paul wanted to go back through some of the cities he and Barnabas had been to (including Lystra, the city where Paul had been stoned and left for dead in Acts 14:19). His partner Barnabas wanted to bring a young man named John Mark with them, but Paul was dead-set against it because they were going to some rough places where there had been persecution and John Mark had a history of cutting and running. There was such a “sharp disagreement” that Paul and Barnabas split and stopped working with each other for a time.
Here again, this wasn’t a matter of doctrine, and John Mark’s behavior in not going to Pamphylia wasn’t necessarily sinful. This was a ministry disagreement that could have worked out either way, but neither Paul nor Barnabas was willing to give in—Paul didn’t want to take someone into a dangerous situation that he couldn’t trust to stick it out, and Barnabas wanted to give a young minister another chance to prove himself. Both of them had good, God-honoring reasons for their own side of the disagreement, but the Scriptures give no indication that either of them laid down his preferences for the sake of the other.
But this is what Paul is pleading for here with Euodia and Syntyche— “Agree together in the Lord! Reckon that both of you have the Holy Spirit dwelling in you, both of you have important perspectives on the issue that separates you! Be eager to lay down your preferences for the other—die to your ego and your need to ‘win’ this argument! Let the other sister ‘win’—and in doing so you are demonstrating the mind of Christ that seeks to esteem others better than yourself!” There is no more beautiful demonstration of the peace of the mind of Christ than seeing a church that agrees together in the LORD—and no greater tragedy than seeing a church that fights just as dirty as the world outside!
Christian, you will rise daily in God’s peace as you die daily with Christ—you have peace with one another by dying to your ego, and you have

II. Peace in YOUR EMOTIONS by dying to ANXIETY (Philippians 4:4-7)

Look at verses 4-7:
Philippians 4:4–7 ESV
4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
If conflict with each other is the opposite of peace in our relational lives, then anxiety is the opposite of peace in our emotional lives. One of the greatest triggers for anxiety in our lives is the sense that we lack control of our lives or our situation. We become anxious when we don’t know what is going to happen, or when we feel as though we are out of control of our circumstances. Many of you know this firsthand—and many of you are even experiencing this kind of turmoil right now.
These verses address your anxiety head-on, but they begin with a startling command: “Rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS...” And Paul makes sure we hear that he means it: “Again I will say—REJOICE!” And not only are we called to rejoice, but he goes on to say “Let your reasonableness be known to everyone...” The word translated “reasonableness” has the idea of being “equitable, fair, or mild”—the idea is that you are known for being steady, even-keeled, not prone to wild swings of emotion or unstable meltdowns.
What in the world could Paul be showing us here that would not only lift our anxiety, but cause us to be full of joy and possessed of a calm, stable and unruffled demeanor? All of these things are rooted in the next five words: “The Lord is at hand!” Christian, Paul says that when you are overcome by anxiety and stress and uncertainty, you can
REST in the NEARNESS of Christ
He is not far away when you are anxious, He is not distant or hard to reach when you are weighed down with uncertainty or apprehension about your circumstances or your future—God[s Word promises you here, Christian—He is at hand! He does not leave you alone at these times, He draws near to you! We are so tempted to think (as we saw a couple of weeks ago) that the “mountaintop” experiences of the Christian life are where we are closest to God—but Jesus draws near to those who suffer. Beloved, you are held in the hand of One who knows depths of suffering and anxiety and apprehension and stress that you can only guess at—He knows the weight of the anxiety you bear, and He is present to lift it from you. As the Apostle Peter tells you in 1 Peter 5:7:
1 Peter 5:7 ESV
7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
You can rejoice to know that Jesus is near you in your trials, and He will never fail to do what is right! And Paul goes on to say that because He is near to you in your anxieties, you can
PLEAD your CASE to Christ
Philippians 4:6 ESV
6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
Paul uses two words to describe our calling out to God in our anxiety. Prayer is a general term that refers to our speaking to God—our regular, every day conversations with Him. Supplication is a much more specific word; the idea there is a specific and urgent request for something that we desperately need. What Paul is describing here is a picture of a Christian’s ordinary, regular prayer life punctuated by these urgent, intense cries for help.
In other words, Paul says, don’t be like that one friend everybody has—the one that only calls when he needs something! Don’t make the only time you speak to God be when you are in desperate need and are weighed down by anxiety, and you want Him to come to your rescue! Our petitions and cries for help should be part of a regular, sustained, every-day life of prayer and talking with the God who is near to us through Jesus Christ.
And when you come to Him in prayer and supplication, when you cast all your anxieties on Him because He has drawn near to you in love and compassion for you,
Philippians 4:7 ESV
7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
When you die to your need to control your surroundings, your circumstances—when you let go of having to know what the future holds and are content to trust Christ for your circumstances, your future—you are free of that anxiety! When you say, “Lord, I don’t know what is going to happen in my life, in my family’s lives, I don’t know where I’ll be with my job, I don’t know what’s going to happen with our country, I can’t see how all this is going to work out—but I know you are near, and I know that you will certainly not fail to to what is right!” When you die to your anxiety by placing yourself in His hands, you are promised here in these verses a peace that is inexplicable to the world! A peace that even you will not be able to explain or describe—heart and mind guarded by the very peace of God Himself!
Christian, you can rise daily in God’s peace as you die daily with Christ—peace with one another by dying to your ego, peace in your emotions by dying to anxiety, and

III. Peace with GOD by dying to a CARELESS MENTALITY (Philippians 4:8-9)

Look at verse 8 with me:
Philippians 4:8 ESV
8 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 translated here “think about these things” (logizomai) refers to more than just a passing thought—it means to deliberate, to take into account, to reckon on or meditate on. (We get our English word logistics from this word.) It’s actually one of the Apostle Paul’s favorite words—he uses it no less than twenty-seven times in his letters (it’s only used four times by all the other New Testament writers combined!)
Paul wants his readers to guard against carelessness in their thinking—he exhorts you to
Discipline your THOUGHT life for NOBILITY
I think that “nobility” best captures all of the elements that Paul describes about what we are to fix our minds on—what is just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, praiseworthy. And Paul says that we have to be deliberate in choosing to think on things like this. Think about it for a moment and you see that it’s true—if you just let your mind wander into whatever paths it wants, where does it go? To honorable thoughts or dishonorable thoughts? To truth or lies? Does your mind naturally fall along commendable lines or embarrassing lines? Imagine you had a loudspeaker attached to your brain that would randomly and unexpectedly broadcast your thoughts out loud to everyone around you, how often would you be mortified by what they heard?
This is Paul’s point—we must deliberately choose to discipline our minds to think of what is excellent, what is praiseworthy, what is good and noble. And so how do you do that, Christian? You fix your mind on the source of all nobility and goodness and excellence and loveliness and honor—your Savior Jesus Christ! And where do you see Jesus? Here in His Word as you discipline yourself to take it in every day, here in the company of His Body the Church, in our fellowship together and as we are lifted up into His presence in Heaven by our worship.
But Paul doesn’t command his readers to train our minds for nobility just for the sake of having a noble mind—as we see in the next verse, disciplining our thought life for nobility is your preparation to
Discipline your DAILY life for CHRISTLIKENESS
Philippians 4:9 ESV
9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
Just as we saw earlier in Philippians 2:29, where Paul says we are to follow examples of nobility like Timothy and Epaphroditus, here he says to put into practice the example of nobility and excellence and Christlikeness that he has demonstrated. As he says in 1 Corinthians 11:1:
1 Corinthians 11:1 ESV
1 Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
You will become like what you meditate on, won’t you? The things you fill your mind with will eventually come out of your fingertips—the words you take in will start coming out of your mouth; the things you delight in will start coloring the way you relate to others. And if those things are dishonorable and shameful and impure and ugly, they will deaden your prayer life and freeze your delight in God and corrode your fellowship with other believers and kill your appetite for God’s Word.
But God’s Word calls you to a higher destiny, doesn’t it, Christian? Paul writes in Colossians 3:
Colossians 3:1–4 ESV
1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
And there is a very similar promise here at the end of Philippians 4:9—that if you practice these things—if you discipline your mind for nobility and set your life to practice Christlikeness: “…practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you!”
There again is the promise of peace that we have been tracing through this passage—peace with each other as we die to our ego, peace in our emotions as we die to anxiety, and peace with God as we die to a careless mentality. See the magnitude of this promise—that when you set your mind on Christ, when you discipline yourself to think on Him as your greatest treasure of loveliness and nobility and excellence and praiseworthiness, when He becomes your guiding example for your whole life, you don’t just receive God’s peace in this turbulent world—you receive the God of peace Himself!
The promise for you here is not just that God will send you peace—He will personally deliver it to you with His own presence! When you die daily with Christ you are raised daily in His peace! Die to your ego and be raised to peace with one another, die to your anxiety and be raised to peace in your own heart, die to a careless mind and be raised to intimacy and peace with God Himself. Christian, this is your great promise that no matter how tumultuous or uncertain or difficult your future may be, you have peace that cannot be shaken in your fellowship with Jesus Christ!
And there is only one way that you can have this peace with Christ—it starts when you come to Him in repentance for your sin and submission to Him as your Savior:
Romans 5:1 ESV
1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
If you don’t have that peace—the peace of having a right relationship with God through Christ, the peace of knowing that all of your guilt and shame and rebellion has been forgiven and you can stand before God righteous in Christ—then none of the peace that Paul describes in these verses can be yours. All of that peace begins when you come to Jesus Christ in repentance—turning away from all of your rebellion against Him, all of your pride that says you don’t need Him, all of your hatred for His righteous and good commands.
When you turn away from all of it and confess that you deserve nothing but eternal punishment apart from Him and believe that He alone can save you by His death and resurrection, He promises to deliver you from all of it, to give you a new heart that can love Him and please Him, to trade your old filthy rags for His perfect and pure robes of righteousness, and to trade all of your turmoil and anxiety and conflict and fear for a peace in this world that will pass all understanding, a peace to guard your heart and guard your mind, a peace that comes from the hand of God Himself as He dwells with you all the days of your life on this earth until the Day when you awaken in Heaven to dwell with Him for all eternity! If you want to know how to do that today, come talk to me or one of the elders after the service—be done with all the anxiety, fear, guilt and shame of your old life. Die to all of it today and come—and welcome!—to Jesus Christ!
BENEDICTION
1 Thessalonians 5:23–24 ESV
23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.
1 Thessalonians 5:28 ESV
28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION

What are some ways that our ego gets in the way of our relationships with others? What does it mean to “share the mind of Christ” with each other? Consider a time when you found yourself in a disagreement with someone else over a non-doctrinal, non-sinful matter. What would happen to that conflict if both sides were ready to “put to death” their own personal preferences?
What is the greatest source of anxiety in your life right now? Can you see how that anxiety has its roots in not having control over the situation? Read Philippians 4:4-7 again. What do these verses say about how we are to turn over control of our situation to Jesus? What does verse 7 promise you will happen to your anxiety when you let Jesus have control?
Consider the things that you present to your mind to feed on—your entertainments, your reading, your leisure time. Are these things enabling you to train your mind to think about what is noble and excellent? Write out Philippians 4:8 on a note card and place it somewhere you will see it this week (next to your computer, your TV, etc.) Consider how you can train your mind for the nobility that God calls you to live out.
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