Rejoice! (2)

The practical implementation of confidence.

15. September 2020In DevotionalBy Karsten Risseeuw9 Minutes

Finding your way in this life can be a challenge. In the first part of this reflection we read how Paul said something “incredible” to the believers in Philippi. They should simply “rejoice”! This sounds exciting, encouraging, but how does something like this work? In this world there are many things that are very difficult. Isn’t Paul’s statement unworldly?

The foundation has been laid

How does Paul see this life? Is he completely absorbed by the immediate need of this world and his experience, or does he deal with it in a better way?

Paul is a person like us. He is familiar with the needs in this world. He deals with it wisely. Trusting in God, he lets go of the distress. He takes a few steps back and gains an overview. He takes a different position, which is not shaped by immediate experiences, but by God’s promises and His reality. Sometimes it is only possible to rejoice by consciously expanding one’s horizon and taking a different perspective.

In Philippians 4:4-7, Paul told the church to rejoice. For through the gospel of the grace of God this world appears in a different light. He works in this world and this world is sustained by Him. This outlook and confidence are taken from the Bible. Of course, not everything is solved in it either – by no means! But it contains progress and outlook. Not everything is happening today, and much is only preserved for the future.

“Rejoice!” was the invitation to see the world from God’s perspective. To make known to Him all our wishes with thanksgiving will bring peace. For in Him, our wishes are safe. Regarding His goal, we ourselves are secure, even if not all wishes are fulfilled.

«And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.»
Phil 4:7

This is a promise and also determines Paul’s own experience. Perhaps in the same way as Dietrich Bonhoeffer once put it:

«There is fulfilled life despite many unfulfilled wishes.»
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, to Eberhard Bethge, March 19, 1944.

Practical steps

The peace of God is superior to all thought, the apostle wrote. This is his personal experience. But what if we want to take this confidence with us into our daily lives? Then we need something more. Then the inner confidence wants to be redirected into practical steps and experienced in action. Therefore, the apostle continues with the following verses:

«Finally, brothers,
whatever is true,
whatever is honorable,
whatever is just,
whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely,
whatever is commendable,
if there is any excellence,
if there is anything worthy of praise,
think about these things.»

Phil 4:8

Paul mentions eight different ways of behavior. These are the things we should now actively focus on. He recommends this responding to the invitation that we should rejoice. These belong together. The statement is only complete when we combine the encouragement with practice.

«think about these things

We need to consider these eight things. We may have to make a conscious decision about them many times a day. Something only becomes tangible if we put it into practice. But if we know that we are inspired by joy and God’s prospect, then we may be able to live out more and more of this joy in our everyday challenges. If God is a blessing to us, we may become a blessing to other people as well.

What is truthful deserves our approval. What is honorable defines our path in society and in our relationships with other people. What is just and pure leaves no room for shadows. What is friendly and beneficial provides the good for other people. Virtue speaks of morally high values and praise refers to our God and Father, as well as to the people to whom we express our gratitude. For this, it should be clear: Our life cannot be divided into a spiritual and a non-spiritual part. Being human and being Christian are inseparable. Paul encourages us to live our lives in a unison.

Perhaps we can summarize this in a nutshell: Loved by God and brought close to us through Christ, we may meet other people just as unreservedly with kindness, to His honor.

The example of Paul

Paul is not only a theologian. He is also a practical man. This is about the practical attitude to life. This is not a theoretical attitude, but he sets himself up as a role model:

«What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me – practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.»
Phil 4:9

If these words are not completely clear, then do take a closer look! Look at me and look at others who walk in the same way! Watch and learn. Let yourself be encouraged. In the previous chapter he had stated:

«Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.».
Phil 3:17

Paul goes the whole hog and wants to include us in it. We should learn to put the gospel into practice. There is a promise connected with it: «and the God of peace will be with you».

The God of Peace

The apostle had already mentioned that the peace of God will preserve our hearts. But here in verse 9 he goes one step further. Here it says that the God of peace will be with us. Two things are remarkable in this. First, it is not the peace of God, but he speaks of the “God of peace”. It is the God who is characterized by peace. It is no longer a matter of the state of “peace”, but of a person, the “God” whose essence is determined by peace. Here we are taken into the relationship that is itself marked by peace. If we come close to God, then peace applies because He has created peace and because He will create peace (Col 1:20).

If we live our lives in accordance with God’s promises and reckon with them in everyday life, then this will have a positive influence on our lives. It will first of all inspire our confidence, our peace in our hearts. But it will also look for an expression in everyday life. Just as Paul described it before.

Suddenly we are no longer in the center of attention ourselves, but our life shines in His light. And then everything changes. Then our worries will also receive a different weighting. This is not a flight from the world, but we experience the world from God’s perspective. Soberly, we cannot help but look at the world from “any perspective”. We do well to consciously choose such a perspective. This is what the proclamation of the gospel is for. We should learn to look at ourselves and this world from God’s perspective. When we do so, the world shines in different colors.


Check out the first part: Rejoice (1).
Original German version: Freuet euch (2)