This is a shorter section of scripture, but it is full of application for us every day. In this section Paul wants to encourage the church–he makes it very clear that their focus needs to be on Christ, as he begins by addressing Euodia and Syntyche and asking them to settle their differences. [v.2] As we’ve seen in previous passages: Paul doesn’t exactly avoid confrontation.
He continues with three specific ways to be unified in Christ. Let the small things remain small things and allow God to unify us through the gospel message. Christ came to make us new. Each of us: you, me, everyone.
The first application Paul gives is to rejoice. [v. 4] Paul doesn’t say “rejoice only when you feel like it.” or “rejoice when God blesses you.” No, he encourages us to rejoice always. Rejoicing when the trials hit hard, when blessings are abundant; because no matter what the day brings, you know that it is not the end of the story.
Next, Paul urges us to show gentleness to others. [v. 5] In our society, the word gentleness could be mistaken for “weak” or “timid,” but that’s not what Paul is saying here. Does he tell us to be bold in our faith and love for Christ? Absolutely. The original Greek, Epieikes, can be translated as “equitable, fair, mild.” Think of the unity that would exist among us if we had an internal mindset of peace, with an outward showing of gentleness: focusing on God and allowing Him to unite us.
Paul addresses worry and anxiety next. No matter what your current life status, we’ve all experienced worry. And this is the thing about worry: worry breeds worry. Instead of allowing worry to become an idol in our lives, we need to bring every request, every fear, every praise and every petition [v.6] to Him. Bring your worries to Him, and He will replace them with His peace.
- In what ways do you remember to rejoice? What are some distractions that keep you from rejoicing? Do you have a story to share of finding joy in a difficult situation that may encourage someone else?
- Write down a list of way you can be bold, yet gentle in your faith. If you’re comfortable, share these with the community.
- Do you struggle with anxiety? Worry? Take time to bring these worries before the Lord. Ask Him to replace them with His peace.