Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. - Philippians 4: 4-7 (NIV)
As we continue through the top ten most searched Bible verses we come to number nine; Philippians 4: 6. As we did with Number Ten, we have included the surrounding context for our exposition, as it really enhances the key verse. We hear so much these days about peace and the lack of it in our lives. Constant turmoil in the world, wars and rumors of wars, one natural disaster after another, falling wages, no work to be found, inept politicians, and any number of other daily grievances make up our daily lives. Then there is always the more personal problems. Family, health, children, finances, all can seem to turn against us in the blink of an eye. If you polled most people you would find one of the top things they wish they had was not money as much as it would be peace. Money can be here today and gone tomorrow but real inner peace is priceless.
God understands this beloved and He did not leave the subject unaddressed in His Word. In fact He gives us His peace plan in the key verses today. There are many moving parts to consider, not just the ninth most searched verse but the surrounding context as well. The first part of God's peace plan is rejoicing in the Lord. It is so important to the plan that God repeats it twice in verse four. I will say it again! Rejoice! When? Is God suggesting that we rejoice in the Lord when things go our way? When all is right with the world? When the bills are paid, the kids are safely in bed and we are basking in the light at the top of the mountain? NO. Rejoice in the Lord always!
Nehemiah said, "Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength." - Nehemiah 8: 10 (NIV)
Beloved there is an almost unspeakable joy found in God. What makes us strong as believers is that there should be nothing in this world that can shatter our inner joy in knowing who we are in Christ. In knowing that no matter what happens our name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life and that we are assured of an eternity in heaven. Do we grieve and mourn? Of course but those are temporary conditions we cannot allow to disrupt our permanent position in Christ. People want peace but they live with no joy. No understanding of how awesome God is and how much He loved us in giving His only Son for our sin sick souls. The opposite of joy is misery. How many Christians do we know that live just as miserable a life as their unsaved counterparts? Here is today's deep theology - you will never find peace inside of misery. If you are desperately seeking peace within a life of misery you are seeking the wrong thing. Find the joy of the Lord and use that as your strength to begin the process of finding His peace.
The second plank in God's peace plan is to let your gentleness be evident to all. Hmm...what can that mean preacher? Well, I think that too often we do not lead gentle lives as Christians. It is not evident to all. In fact, I have seen far to many Christians lead disruptive, mean-spirited, or even antagonistic lives. I understand that it can be difficult in this world we live in but remember who we are supposed to be:
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light; - 1Peter 2: 9 (KJV)
The sad truth is we spend too much time trying to fit into a world that we are not supposed to be a part of. Do your co-workers find you peculiar? They should! We are supposed to be different! A royal priesthood! A Holy Nation! What will be the result of us approaching the world with the gentleness of Christ? We will find ourselves in a lot less drama. In case we forgot, drama leads to lives lacking peace. Gentleness is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. We need to cultivate it more in our lives and we will find ourselves leading more peaceful lives as a result.