We started earlier this week looking at Paul’s view and model of how we are to respond when we find ourselves in difficult circumstances. We discussed the reality that Paul was dealing with when he wrote the book of Philippians from a Roman prison while dealing with conflicts within the church in Philippi. I believe Paul if he was writing to us in the face of our current crisis, would teach us to lean into the challenge that God is set before us. I don’t believe that he would tell us to back away or withdraw in the face of the many difficulties that we are now experiencing, but rather to be strengthened and sustained through the Lord Jesus Christ. Starting in Philippians 4:4 we read these important mental health words, “Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say again: rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near,” (v.4,5 NIV). Earlier this week we saw Paul’s model of not allowing external circumstances to rob us of the inner joy that should be present in our lives when we are a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ.
We saw that even in a crisis we can draw near to the Lord Jesus Christ and God can work to change our priorities when we maintain a joyful spirit. Besides having a joyful spirit, we are to add gentleness in our dealings with one another. This word suggests forbearing in a non-retaliatory sense that can be seen to all. I think this gentleness (reasonable, fair-minded and charitable) are to be present not only in our relationship with other believers, but also when we are dealing with people outside of the faith. Because we are all dealing with difficult circumstances, even the challenge of going grocery shopping, it is easy for us to lose our patience with those around us or those who violate our personal space. Responding in the face of these challenges with gentleness communicates the idea of a sweet reasonableness and the importance of developing a forbearing spirit. Joy is an inner quality in relating to circumstances that may not always be seen by others, but how we react to circumstances or harsh people around us can be seen by all. It is wonderful when a Christian can have convictions and yet still be easy to get along with. If we keep in mind that the Lord is with us in every circumstance, as Paul says here, “the Lord is near”, then He can empower us to obey Him and even work with difficult circumstances and people. “The Lord is near” is the idea of practicing the presence of Christ and seeing Him in every life situation and letting Him work out His perfect will. The Lord being near refers to the Lord’s moment by moment presence with us as believers, even in the midst of our present difficulties. “The Lord is near” and at His second coming we will realize the fulfillment of His final purpose for us and experience the ultimate joy.
In the meantime, I believe gratefulness is one of the greatest tools in our arsenal as we represent Christ today. Part of gratefulness today is to practice gentleness in our daily lives. Our current crisis calls for us to develop the fruit of gentleness in dealing with our families, our friends and even the outsiders that we may encounter in our journeys. Remember that gentleness is one of the fruits of the Spirit that Paul mentions in Galatians 5:23. God is certainly giving us the opportunity to develop this fruit. Remember while Paul was in prison Nero was in his palace with all his wealth, power, glitter and grandeur. Though he had all these things he had no peace in his life and all that he had would soon pass away. Paul, on the other hand, was in prison and his heart was filled with joy and peace and he was shining his light even through this Scripture that we can still find great comfort from even in the midst of our own trials. Today many people are looking for a connection, let’s practice gentleness by reaching out with the love of Christ and connecting with those around us who are experiencing great loneliness for the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.ist.he Lord is with us in every circumstance, as Paul says here, “the Lord is near”, then He can empower us to obey Him and even work with difficult circumstances and people. “The Lord is near” is the idea of practicing the presence of Christ and seeing Him in every life situation and letting Him work out His perfect will. The Lord is near referred to the Lord’s moment by moment presence with us as believers, even in the midst of our present difficulties. “The Lord is near” and at His second coming, we will realize the fulfillment of His final purpose for us and experience the ultimate joy.
Resting in the Savior,
Pastor Rich Sivo