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Keep on Doing—Philippians 4:4–13

Sunday, July 25, 2010, 6:40
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Keep on Doing

August 22, 2010

Lesson: Philippians 4:4–13

Key Verses: Philippians 4:4, 9



Paul has encouraged the saints at Philippi to “stand fast in the Lord,” speaking to them as his dearly beloved brethren. He implores them to “help those women which had labored with me in the gospel,” along with other laborers “whose names are in the book of life.” Paul’s concluding remarks include this exhortation: “Rejoice in the Lord always; and again I say, rejoice.” Those who labor in the Lord, who press forward toward that “prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus,” have that inward and inexpressible joy which breaks forth in hearty rejoicing of the soul and lips.

The word, ‘rejoice’ (Chairo) is related to the Greek word for grace. Our rejoicing or joy is the result of God’s grace in Christ; welling up from within as a cup overflowing because of the manifold grace of God. This same word is used in Matthew 5:12, referring to that joy which cannot even be hindered by the tribulations of this world: “Rejoice, and be exceeding glad; for great is your reward in heaven; for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”


He Shall Keep Your Heart—Philippians 4:4–7

Paul highlights the duty of the child of God to rejoice. We can understand that we must rejoice in the Lord. However, how do we rejoice in the Lord, always? George Wishart, faithful minister of the Word and Scots martyr, always willing to part with some of his own clothing to the poor, found himself, in March of 1546, climbing the steps of the scaffold. His word to the people from the stake, which was ready for fire, was: “I entreat you that you love the Word of God for your salvation, and suffer patiently and with a comfortable heart for the Word’s sake, which is your everlasting comfort; but for the true Gospel, which was given me by the grace of God, I suffer this day with a glad heart.”

Gladness of spirit and heart cannot be taken away from the Christian whose Savior is Christ the King. It is a light which cannot be snuffed out by any storm this world might muster against us. There we find the fruits of the Spirit which sustain us in our relationship with our Lord and with one another: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, against such there is no law” (Gal. 5:22–23). Matthew Henry wrote that Paul “particularly recommends to us, love, to God especially, and to one another for his sake, – joy, by which may be understood cheerfulness in conversation with our friends, or rather a constant delight in God, – peace, with God and conscience, or a peaceableness of temper and behaviour towards others, – long-suffering, patience to defer anger, and a contentedness to bear injuries, – gentleness, such a sweetness of temper, and especially towards our inferiors, as disposes us to be affable and courteous, and easy to be entreated when any have wronged us, – goodness (kindness, beneficence), which shows itself in a readiness to do good to all as we have opportunity.”

Wherefore we are to be “careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made know unto God.” We are not to be anxious in our Christian duties toward one another, in whatever circumstance we find ourselves. We are, knowing that our Lord is at hand, to pray, in the spirit of gratitude for his grace and love, making our needs known to him. We must not wait until an appointed time for devotions, but raise up the burdens as soon as possible. It is the Lord’s desire that we speak with him. He knows our needs before we ask. But he desires communion with his children that we may know “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding,” which shall keep our “hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” The peace of Christ stands guard over us, protecting and strengthening us each and every hour. The Lord will keep “in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee; because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the Lord forever; for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength” (Isa. 26:3–4).

Discussion: What does it mean to trust in the Lord always?


Think on These Things—Philippians 4:8–13

What is a Christian really like? What does it mean to bear the image of our Creator, to walk in the way of Christ our Savior? Wherein is this strength to rejoice in the face of persecution, or to love unconditionally one another in thought and deed? Think upon these things, says Paul. Look within yourself and see the wonderful work of Christ in the heart of the believer. We are always in the process of putting “on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Ephesians 4:24).

Therefore: Consider those things which are true. We must see truth in our words as we grow in the truth of God’s word. “Stand therefore, having your loins girded about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness.” Consider those things which are honest. Our behavior, as well as our words, is to be honorable. The word ‘honest’ refers to worship, to a heavenly dignity. In other words, we are to reveal a composure and respect that attract true virtue and honesty. This is illustrated in the qualifications of deacons: “Likewise must the deacons be grave (honest), not double-tongued, etc.” (1 Tim. 3:8). Consider those things which are just. We should, in our minds, “gratefully meditate on God’s righteous acts (Rev. 15:3), appreciate righteousness in others, and should plan righteous words and deeds” (Hendriksen). Consider those things which are pure. We are to be virtuous and moral in our relationships with one another, faithful in marriage, etc. Purity speaks of the absence of impurity, of sin. We are in the process of being separated from sin, to die to sin and live in the purity of Christ and his word. Consider those things which are lovely. Let us think upon those things which are pleasing in the sight of God, which are beneficial for others. Consider those things which are of good report: Are what we do and think worthy of the name of our Lord?

In summary, “If there be any virtue, …any praise, think on these things.” Let our walk be to the praise of God and to the good of our neighbors. We are not only to think upon these things, but to learn them, “and the God of peace shall be with you.” We are to put in practice those things which we learn from our study of God’s word. Our meditation is to study well the Word of God, which from the Word written upon our hearts, will come our faith and practice in our daily lives, living out those things which the Spirit writes upon our souls.

Discussion: What does it mean to think upon those things we are taught?



Paul rejoices “in the Lord” that the saints at Philippi had a renewed opportunity to help him. Paul had been content in the blessings, or lack of blessings, he had received in his service for the Lord. He knew “how to be abased,” and “how to abound.” His times of hunger and of fullness, “both to abound and to suffer need,” were to him times of instruction. Our times of plenty or of want should be blessings to us in Christ, for in both we are instructed in the grace and love of God in Christ Jesus. In all times, we find the comfort of the Holy Spirit; and in him we find contentment. It is not just an acceptance of the circumstances, but a rising above the circumstances in strength and victory, wherein we rejoice greatly. Paul summarizes his life and ours: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”—“We need Christ’s strength to teach us to be content in every condition. We have need of strength from Christ, to enable us to perform not only those duties which are purely Christian, but those which are the fruit of moral virtue” (Henry). May we hear the words of our Lord which Paul heard on that road to Damascus: “My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9). It is then, in the grace and strength of Christ that we can testify, “I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then am I strong.” Our lives must be lived in the strength of Christ and not our own. Let us learn this lesson by coming to him quickly in every situation we face.

Discussion: What does it mean to do things through Christ?


Lessons are based on the International Sunday School Lessons for Christian Teaching, copyright © 2010 by the Committee on the Uniform Series.


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