By Brooke Holt
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say rejoice.” Philippians 4:4
When conflict is high, tension is high, and dissension seems to have the upper hand, what do you do? According to the words of the Apostle Paul, you are to rejoice. Is this some kind of far-fetched religious language or does Paul truly intend for his readers to embrace and implement his words? If you resonate with these questions, remember where Paul is as he penned these words – prison. Though he writes from prison, the tone of Paul’s letter conveys joy.
Paul writes to share his joyful expectation for his readers, especially Euodia and Syntyche. These women had been engaged in some dispute, and they were allowing the dissension to take the upper hand in their lives and ultimately impacting their church. Their conflict impacted everyone. Paul does not seek to understand the conflict, but he moves directly to the antidote – “Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say rejoice” (Philippians 4:4). Was Paul downplaying their feelings or rights? Absolutely not! Paul was directing these women (and anyone else who would experience conflict) to look beyond the circumstances and to put their eyes on Jesus.
In Jesus, every sin was absolved, every wound healed, and the way of reconciliation was provided. Paul trusted these women. They had been co-laborers in the Gospel with him. He knew they loved Jesus, loved the church, and loved one another. Paul also understood people can become easily offended and quite stubborn. Instead of seeking the healing work of Jesus in their mess, these women were holding to their will and way.
Throughout this letter, Paul has been reminding them of the better way – the way of Jesus. Jesus did not hold to his rights but humbled himself by becoming a man. That humility led him to a sinner’s death on a cross. There, a perfect man fulfilled the Law and provided the way to be reconciled to God and to one another.
As Paul writes his final exhortations to his beloved people in Philippi, he reminds them to rejoice in who God is, what he has provided them through Jesus Christ the Messiah, and to look to the power of this God to bring healing, reconciliation, and peace. Rejoicing in the Lord was the way to reconciliation for these women. It was the way Paul overcame the limitations and frustrations of his jail cell, and it is the way for you to overcome challenges and conflicts in your life.
Are you in a conflict? Rejoice! Are you suffering? Rejoice. Are you living God’s abundant life? Rejoice! In all situations, lift your eyes to see your Lord and Savior. He has made the way for you to overcome this world, the enemy, and the grave. We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Awaken the awe and the wonder of Advent! “The King Is Coming” is a 4-week Advent devotional especially written with a child’s heart in mind. It takes families through the salvation story by focusing on who God is, the gift of Jesus, and the importance of celebrating and sharing that miraculous gift! Bring your family together this Advent season for a journey exploring God’s big love for you.
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