I wrote on Philippians 4:2-9 this morning. I covered all the bases that a 30-something un-ordained, amateur writing lay lady with the help of Matthew Henry might be expected to. The message was clear. It was truthful and as accurate as can be expected from a mere flawed human being equipped with a one track mind set on sharing the gospel and a few scattered prayers for incite and wisdom. Then, God said no. No sooner did the last stroke of my pen hit the paper than I heard him say, not today. No regurgitation of facts. Today it’s personal. In fact, it’s always personal. Make it so.
So, if Paul were here writing this passage to me, I’m going to tell you what he would likely say…what God is saying to us here:
Lori, this is urgent. I beg you to listen to me. The women around you are your sisters. The men around you are your brothers. You are all Christians. You are all serving the Lord the best way you know how. You must agree. Allow my chosen leader to help you get along. In order to do so, there are a couple things I need you to do. These are not suggestions. They are commands.
Rejoice. Rejoice, always. No matter what happens, rejoice. If someone offends you, rejoice. If they ignore you, rejoice. If they take offense when none was given, rejoice. If you feel taken advantage of, excluded, used, abused, or ripped off in any way by anyone inside or outside the church, rejoice. Lori, I’m not asking you. I’m telling you. Rejoice.
While you’re rejoicing for the goodness you’ve been given, but do not, by any means, deserve, I need you to be reasonable. Your feelings must not get in the way of the generosity, the forbearance, the long-suffering nature of the love that I have called you to. There is absolutely no room for being high strung, irate, self-interested, or over bearing for any reason. You cannot let offenses or feelings trump my call to be reasonable with everyone at all times. This is not a suggestion. It’s a command.
I know what you’re going to say next. You’re going to tell me how if you do these two things under the load of stress I’ve provided for your spiritual growth that you will internalize all of the uncertainty and begin to worry about how it’s all going to turn out. You’re going to pretend to rejoice outwardly so I will think you’re obeying. You’re going to be outwardly kind and peaceable with those who’ve hurt you but also allow a root of bitterness to grow inside over their offenses. That’s not going to work, Lori. The reason is because anxiety, fear, and worry are not permitted inside my children. Under no circumstances will I allow these soul-robbing vices. Worry, fear, and anxiety are mine to keep. You cannot have them. You must pray if you are tempted by these evils.
I’ll tell you what. Every time you start to feel anxious, worried, afraid, or angry about some injustice, I want you to tell me about how thankful you are for the things I’ve blessed you so abundantly with. I need you to not forget where you came from. I want you to remember who you would be right now without me. Am I faithful, Lori? Am I? I will give you peace. I will protect your heart. I will protect your mind. Nothing you can gain in the world will do that for you. Don’t forget who it is that’s talking to you. I AM.
Before I go, I have one last instruction. I want you to think about only good things. I don’t want to see the evil done to you played out over and over in your mind today. I want you to think about me. I want you to think about how much I love you. I want you to remember what I did for you; what I do for you every single day. Look at your blessings. Look at my provision. Consider my sacrifice. Believe me. I am good. You are mine. There is no time to fret. We have too much to do, Lori! Look around! Imitate the righteous. Do whatever I say. There is little time left. Just listen. Obey me. I am holding out my hand. I am holding out my peace. I have promised to be with you and I cannot lie.
I am faithful. Do not worry. Trust me.
~ I AM