Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6 Do not worry about anything,Philippians 4:4–6 (NRSV)
Philippians 4 attracts a lot of attention because it includes the well known passage,“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” The passage also contains the above phrase, “The Lord is near” which aligns with Jesus’ first sermon of “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”
Because the Lord is near we can rejoice. Because the Lord is near we can be free from worry. And because the Lord is near our response is gentleness. All of these are the positive outcomes in our life when the Lord is near.
Rejoicing. Gentleness. Confidence.
Which of these comes most naturally for you? Which one is the struggle?
Rejoicing is a mindfulness of God’s presence that leads to thanksgiving. Are you a compartmentalizer like I am? One moment you are focused on God and the next “squirrel”!
Gentleness is being kind, even keeled, not harsh. Do you trust in God’s power enough to not demand your own way or manipulate the outcomes?
Confidence is being certain about a truth. Are you so certain in God’s promises, and that God will fulfill them, that you can remain in the moment instead the rehearsing the potential downside(s) of the future?
If we are honest, while one or more of the three may come more naturally than the other, none are without challenges. The mistake we make is in focusing on the outcomes of rejoicing, gentleness, and confidence rather than focusing on the process by which they become realities.
James 4:8 says that when we “draw near” to the Lord, the Lord draws near to us. Times of prayer, study, worship, and a host of other means of grace are the key. You will make progress in the areas of rejoicing, gentleness, and confidence as you set aside time to spend with the Lord.
As we begin a new week, what is your intentional plan to do just that? It won’t just happen. The enemy, as well as you and I quite frankly, will make sure there are enough distractions to occupy your time. Consider this, then, a gentle reminder. An invitation to a life that looks different because of a relationship with the One who makes all things different.