In the fourth and final chapter of Philippians, we come to several well-known, popular “coffee cup” verses. The problem with “coffee cup” verses is that they are divorced from their context and setting. And this is often a recipe for misapplication.
These verses from Philippians 4:1-9 might at first glance appear disconnected and disjointed, but there’s a cohesive flow of thought running through these verses; once you see the connection, you can’t unsee it. Everything here is thematically linked together.
This passage opens with Paul’s entreaty that these women find a way to make peace with one another, and then his two paragraphs of commands which follow are each capped off by a promise of God’s peace which will be theirs if they follow the commands. Do you see the theme that’s connecting all this? Peace within the family of God.
Satan loves to sow discord and disunity into the church. He’s not creative, but he’s effective. So how can we move towards peace with our Christian brothers and sisters?
Paul gives us 3 keys to peace-filled relationships:
- Remembering our Family: When we’re wounded, we tend to cave-in on ourselves. We become self-absorbed. Paul is counteracting that sinful tendency towards self-absorption by reminding us that we are children of God. There is gospel connection that binds us to one another. Because in Christ, we are bound together as forever family. When we realize this, we can set aside squabbles within the larger context of the saving work of Christ which echoes into eternity.
- Requesting of our Father: The Lord is our Joy, our life, our everything. So don’t let personal conflict steal your joy. Your joy comes from drawing deeply of the resources that are yours in Christ and pursuing him every day of your lives. In conflict, not only do we become self-absorbed, but we tend to become self-reliant, assuming that it is our responsibility to get what we want. Anxiety is symptomatic of self-reliance. Paul counteracts the sinful tendency to self-reliance and anxiety by encouraging us to pray in God-reliance which leads to peace. In Christ, we entrust our heart’s desires to God.
- Refocusing our Framework: When we’re in conflict, we tend to villainize the other person. We tend to think about the things that justify our poor treatment of them. Paul counteracts this sinful tendency towards self-justification by refocusing the framework. Instead of reducing someone to the sum-total of their failures, look for glimpses of Christ in them. In Christ, we attend to God’s good work in one another.
Takeaway: Brothers and sisters, let us agree in the Lord.
- Who do you need to apologize to?
- Who do you need to forgive?
- With whom do you need to make peace?