Sermon 2351. Prayer, The Cure for Care
A SERMON INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S DAY, MARCH 11, 1984.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON THURSDAY EVENING, JANUARY 12, 1888.
"Be careful for nothing; but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made kno wnunto God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6, 7.
We have the faculty of forethought, but, like all our faculties, it has been perverted, and it is often abused. It is goodfor a man to have a holy care and to pay due attention to every item of his life, but, alas, it is very easy to make it intoan unholy care and to try to wrest from the hand of God that office of Providence which belongs to Him and not to ourselves.How often Luther liked to talk about the birds and the way God cares for them! When he was full of his anxieties, he usedto constantly envy the birds because they led so free and happy a life. He talks of Dr. Sparrow, Dr. Thrush and others thatused to come and talk to Dr. Luther and tell him many a good thing! You know, Brothers and Sisters, the birds out in the open,yonder, cared for by God, fare far better than those that are cared for by man. A little London girl, who had gone into thecountry, once said, "Look, mamma, at that poor little bird. It has not got any cage!" That would not have struck me as beingany loss to the bird-and if you and I were without our cage, and the box of seed, and glass of water, it would not be muchof a loss if we were cast adrift into the glorious liberty of a life of humble dependence upon God!
It is that cage of carnal trust and that box of seed that we are always laboring to fill, that makes the worry of this mortallife. But he who has Grace to spread his wings and soar away-and get into the open field of Divine trustfulness-may sing allthe day and always have this for his tune-
"Mortal, cease from toil and sorrow; God provides for the morrow."
Here, then, is the teaching of the text-"Be careful for nothing." The word, "careful," does not now mean exactly what it didwhen the Bible was translated. At least it conveys a different meaning to me from what it did to the translators. I wouldsay that we should be careful. "Be careful," is a good lesson for boys and young people when they are starting in life, but,in the sense in which the word, "care-full," was understood at the time of the translators, we must not be careful, that is,full of care. The text means, be not anxious-be not constantly thinking about the needs of this mortal life. I will read itagain, stretching the word out a little, and then you will get the meaning of it-"Be care-full for nothing." Oh, that Godmight teach us how to avoid the evil which is here forbidden, and to live with that holy carelessness which is the very beautyof the Christian life-when all our care is cast on God, and we can joy and rejoice in His Providential care of us!
"Ah," somebody says, "I cannot help caring." Well, the subject, tonight, is to help you to leave off caring or worrying and,first, consider, here, the substitute for care. Be careful for nothing, but be prayerful for everything-that is the substitutefor care, "prayer and supplication." Secondly, note the special character of this prayer which is to become the substitutefor anxiety-"In everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God." Andthen I hope we shall have a few minutes left in which to consider the sweet effect of this prayer-"The peace of God, whichpasses all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
I. To begin, then, here is, first, THE SUBSTITUTE FOR CARE OR ANXIETY.
I suppose it is true of many of us that our cares are numerous. If you once become careful, anxious, fretful, you will neverbe able to count your cares, even though you might count the hairs of your head. And cares are apt to multiply to
those who are care-full and when you are as full of care as you think you can be, you will be sure to have another crop ofcares growing up all around you. The indulgence of this evil habit of anxiety leads to its getting dominion over life, tilllife is not worth living by reason of the care we have about it. Cares are numerous and, therefore, let your prayers be asnumerous. Turn everything that is a care into a prayer. Let your cares be the raw material of your prayers and, as the alchemistshoped to turn dross into gold, so you, by a holy alchemy, actually turn what naturally would have been a care into spiritualtreasure in the form of prayer! Baptize every anxiety into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit-andso make it into a blessing!
Have you a care to get? Take heed that it does not get you! Do you wish to make gain? Mind you do not lose more than you gainby your gains. I beseech you, have no more care to gain than you dare turn into a prayer! Do not desire to have what you darenot ask God to give you. Measure your desires by a spiritual standard and you will thus be kept from anything like covetousness.Cares come to many from their losses-they lose what they have gained. Well, this is a world in which there is the tendencyto lose. Ebbs follow floods and winters crush out summer flowers. Do not wonder if you lose as other people do, but pray aboutyour losses. Go to God with them-and instead of fretting, make them an occasion for waiting upon the Lord and saying-"TheLord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord. Show me why You contend with me, and deliver Yourservant, I pray You, from ever complaining of You, whatever You permit me to lose!"
Perhaps you say that your care is neither about your gaining nor your losing, but about your daily bread. Ah, well, you havepromises for that, you know! The Lord has said, "So shall you dwell in the land, and verily you shall be fed." He gives yousweet encouragement when He says that He clothes the grass of the field-and shall He not much more clothe you, O you of littlefaith? And the Lord Jesus bids you consider the fowls of Heaven, how they sow not, neither do they gather into barns, andyet your heavenly Father feeds them. Go, then, to your God with all your cares! If you have a large family, a slender incomeand much ado to make ends meet, and to provide things honest in the sight of all men, you have so many excuses for knockingat God's door-so many more reasons for being often found at the Throne of Grace! I beseech you, turn them to good account.I feel free to call upon a friend when I really have some business to do with him-and you may be bold to call upon God whennecessities press upon you. Instead of caring for anything with anxious care, turn it at once into a reason for renewed prayerfulness.
"Ah," one says, "but I am in perplexity. I do not know what to do." Well, then, dear Friend, you should certainly pray whenyou cannot tell whether it is the right hand road, or the left hand, or straight on, or whether you should go back! Indeed,when you are in such a fog that you cannot see the next lamp, then is the time that you must pray. The road will clear beforeyou very suddenly. I have often had to try this plan, myself-and I bear witness that when I have trusted to myself, I havebeen a gigantic fool! But when I have trusted in God, then He has led me straight on in the right way, and there has beenno mistake about it! I believe that God's children often make greater blunders over simple things than they do over more difficultmatters. You know how it was with Israel, when those Gibeonites came, with their old shoes and clothes, and showed the breadthat was moldy, that they said they took fresh out of their ovens. The children of Israel thought, "This is a clear case.These men are strangers, they have come from a far country, so we may make a league with them." They were certain that theevidence of their eyes proved that these were no Canaanites, so they did not consult God! The whole matter seemed so plainthat they made a league with the Gibeonites, which was a trouble to them ever afterwards! If we would, in everything, go toGod in prayer, our perplexities would lead us into no more mistakes than our simplicities-and in simple things and difficultthings we should be guided by the Most High.
Perhaps another friend says, "But I am thinking about the future." Are you? Well, first, I beg to ask you what you have todo with the future? Do you know what a day will bring forth? You have been thinking about what will become of you when youare old, but are you sure that you will ever be old? I knew one Christian woman who used to worry herself about how she wouldget buried. That question never troubled me and there are many other matters about which we need not worry ourselves. Youcan always find a stick with which to beat a dog and, if you need a care, you can generally find a care with which to beatyour own souls! But that is a poor occupation for any of you. Instead of doing that, turn everything that might be a subjectof care into a subject of prayer. It will not be long before you have a subject of care, so you will not be long without asubject of prayer. Strike out that word, "care," and just write in the place of it this word, "prayer"-and then, though yourcares are numerous, your prayers will also be numerous.
Note, next, dear Friends, that undue care is an intrusion into God's province. It is making yourself the father of the householdinstead of being a child-it is making yourself the master instead of being a servant for whom the master provides his rations.Now, if, instead of doing that, you will turn care into prayer, there will be no intrusion, for you may come to God in prayerwithout being charged with presumption. He invites you to pray. No, here, by His servant, He bids you, "in everything, byprayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God." Once more, cares are of no use to us,and they cause us great damage. If you were to worry as long as you wished, you could not make yourself an inch taller, orgrow another hair on your head, or make one hair white or black! So the Savior tells us and He asks, if care fails in suchlittle things, what can care do in the higher matters of Providence? It cannot do anything! A farmer stood in his fields andsaid, "I do not know what will happen to us all. The wheat will be destroyed if this rain keeps on. We shall not have anyharvest at all unless we have some fine weather." He walked up and down, wringing his hands, fretting and making his wholehousehold uncomfortable. And he did not produce one single gleam of sunlight by all his worrying-he could not puff any ofthe clouds away with all his petulant speech, nor could he stop a drop of rain with all his murmurings.
What is the good of it, then, to keep gnawing at your own heart, when you can get nothing by it? Besides, it weakens our powerto help ourselves and especially our power to glorify God. A care-full heart hinders us from judging rightly in many things.I have often used the illustration (I do not know a better) of taking a telescope, breathing on it with the hot breath ofour anxiety, putting it to our eye and then saying that we cannot see anything but clouds! Of course we cannot, and we nevershall while we breathe upon it. If we were but calm, quiet, self-possessed and God-possessed, we would do the right thing.We would be, as we say, "all there," in the time of difficulty. That man may expect to have presence of mind who has the Presenceof God. If we forget to pray, do you wonder that we are all in a fidget and a worry, and we do the first thing that occursto us-which is generally the worst thing-instead of waiting till we saw what would be done and then trustfully and believinglydoing it as in the sight of God? Care, or worry, is injurious, but if you only turn this care into prayer, then every worrywill be a benefit to you.
Prayer is wonderful material for building up the spiritual fabric. We are, ourselves, edified by prayer. We grow in Graceby prayer and if we will but come to God every moment with petitions, we shall be fast growing Christians! I said to one thismorning, "Pray for me, it is a time of need," and she replied, "I have done nothing else since I awakened." I have made thesame request of several others and they have said that they have been praying for me. I felt so glad, not only for my ownsake, who had received benefit from their prayers, but for their sakes, because they are sure to grow thereby! When littlebirds keep flapping their wings, they are learning to fly. The sinews will get stronger and the birds will leave the nestbefore long. That very clapping of their wings is an education-and the attempting to pray-the groaning, the sighing, the cryingof a prayerful spirit, is, itself, a blessing! Leave off, then, this damaging habit of worry and take to this enriching habitof prayer! See how you will thus make a double gain-first, by avoiding a loss, and secondly, by getting that which will reallybenefit you and others, too!
Then, again, cares are the effect of forgetfulness of Christ's closeness to us. Did you notice how the context runs? "TheLord is at hand. Be careful for nothing." The Lord Jesus Christ has promised to come again and He may come tonight. At anymoment He may appear! So Paul writes, "The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in everything, by prayer and supplication,with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God." Oh, if we could but stand on this earth as upon a mere shadow!If we could but live as those who will soon have done with this poor transient life! If we held every earthly thing with avery loose hand, then we would not be caring, and worrying, and fretting-but we would take to praying, for thus we would graspthe real, and the substantial, and plant our feet upon the invisible, which is, after all, the eternal! Oh, dear Friends,let the text, which I have read to you over and over again, now drop into your hearts as a pebble falls into a mountain lakeand, as it enters, let it make rings of comfort upon the very surface of your soul!
II. Now we need to look into the text a little more closely to see, in the second place, THE SPECIAL CHARACTER OF THIS PRAYER.What sort of prayer is that which will ease us of care?
Well, first, it is a prayer which deals with everything. "In everything" "let your requests be made known unto God." You maypray about the smallest thing and about the greatest thing-you may not only pray for the Holy Spirit, but you may pray fora new pair of boots. You may go to God about the bread you eat, the water you drink, the garment you wear and pray to Himabout everything. Draw no line and say, "So far is to be under the care of God." Dear me, then, what are you going to do withthe rest of life? Is that to be lived under the withering blight of a sort of atheism? God forbid! Oh, that we might livein God as to the whole of our being, for our being is such that we cannot divide it! Our body, soul and spirit are one, andwhile God leaves us in this world and we have necessities which arise out of the condition of our bodies,
we must bring our bodily necessities before God in prayer. And you will find that the great God will hear you in these matters.Say not that they are too little for Him to notice-everything is little in comparison with Him! When I think of what a greatGod He is, it seems to me that this poor little world of ours is just one insignificant grain of sand on the seashore of theuniverse-and not worth any notice at all. The whole earth is a mere speck in the great world of Nature and, if God condescendsto consider it, He may as well stoop a little lower and consider us! And He does so, for He says, "Even the very hairs ofyour head are all numbered." Therefore, in everything let your requests be made known unto God.
The kind of prayer that saves us from care is prayer that is repeated-"In everything, by prayer and supplication." Pray toGod and then pray again-"by prayer and supplication." If the Lord does not answer you the first time, be very grateful thatyou have a good reason for praying again! If He does not grant your request the second time, believe that He loves you somuch that He wants to hear your voice again! And if He keeps you waiting till you have gone to Him seven times, say to yourself,"Now I know that I worship the God of Elijah, for Elijah's God let him go, again, seven times before the blessing was given."Count it an honor to be permitted to wrestle with the Angel of God! This is the way God makes His princes! Jacob had neverbeen Israel if he had obtained the blessing from the Angel at the first asking-but when he had to keep on wrestling till heprevailed, then he became a prince with God! The prayer that kills care is prayer that is continued and importunate.
Next, it is intelligent prayer-"Let your requests be made known unto God." I heard of a Muslim who spent, I think, six hoursin prayer each day and, lest he should go to sleep when on board a ship, he stood upright and only had a rope stretched across,so that he might lean against it. And if he slept, he would fall. His objective was to keep on for six hours with what hecalled prayer. "Well," I said to one who knew him, and who had seen him on board his boat on the Nile, "What sort of prayerwas it?" "Why," my friend replied, "he kept on repeating, 'There is no God but God, and Mohammed is the prophet of God,' thesame thing over, and over, and over again." I said, "Did he ask for anything?" "Oh, no!" "Was he pleading with God to givehim anything?" "No, he simply kept on with that perpetual repetition of certain words, just as a witch might repeat a charm."
Do you think there is anything in that style of praying? If you go on your knees and simply repeat a certain formula, it willbe only a mouthful of words. What does God care about that kind of praying? "Let your requests be made known unto God." Thatis true prayer! God knows what your requests are, but you are to pray to Him as if He did not know. You are to make knownyour requests, not because the Lord does not know, but, perhaps, because you do not know. And when you have made your requestsknown to Him, as the text tells you, you will more clearly have made them known to yourself. When you have asked intelligently,knowing what you have asked, and knowing why you have asked it, you will, perhaps, stop and say to yourself, "No, I must not,after all, make that request." Sometimes, when you have gone on praying for what God does not give you, it may be that therewill steal over your mind the conviction that you are not on the right track and that result of your prayer will, in itself,do you good, and be a blessing to you.
But you are to pray making your requests known unto God. That is, in plain English, say what you need, for this is true prayer.Get alone and tell the Lord what you need-pour out your heart before Him. Do not imagine that God needs any fine language!No, you need not run upstairs for your prayer book, and turn to a collect-you will be a long time before you find any collectthat will fit you if you are really praying! Pray for what you need just as if you were telling your mother or your dearestfriend what your need is. Go to God in that fashion, for that is real prayer, and that is the kind of prayer that will driveaway your cares.
So, dear Friends, again, the kind of prayer that brings freedom from care is communion with God. If you have not spoken toGod, you have not really prayed. A little child has been known (I daresay your children have done it) to go and put a letterdown the grating of a drain and, of course, there was never any reply to a letter posted in that way. If the letter is notput into the postbox, so that it goes to the person to whom it is addressed, what is the use of it? So, prayer is real communicationwith God. You must realize that He is and that He is the Rewarder of them that diligently seek Him, or else you cannot pray.He must be a reality to you, a living reality, and you must believe that He hears prayer, and then you must speak with Himand believe that you have the petition that you ask of Him-and so you shall have it. He has never yet failed to honor believingprayer. He may keep you waiting for a while, but delays are not denials, and He has often answered a prayer that asked forsilver by giving gold! He may have denied earthly treasure, but He has given heavenly riches of ten thousand times the worth-andthe suppliant has been more than satisfied with the exchange! "Let your requests be made known unto God."
I know what you do when you are in trouble-you go to your neighbor, but your neighbor does not want to see you quite so oftenabout such business. Possibly you go to your brother, but there is a text that warns you not to go into your brother's housein the day of your calamity. You may call on a friend too often when you are hard up-he may be very pleased to see you tillhe hears what you are after! But if you go to your God, He will never give you the cold shoulder. He will never say that youcome too often. On the contrary, He will even chide you because you do not come to Him often enough!
There is one word which I passed over, just now, because I wanted to leave it for my last observation on this point- "By prayerand supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God." Now what does that mean? It means that thekind of prayer that kills care is a prayer that asks cheerfully, joyfully, thankfully. "Lord, I am poor. Let me bless Youfor my poverty and then, O Lord, will You not supply all my needs?" That is the way to pray. "Lord, I am ill. I bless Youfor this affliction, for I am sure that it means some good thing to me. Now be pleased to heal me, I beseech You!" "Lord,I am in a great trouble, but I praise You for the trouble, for I know that it contains a blessing though the envelope is black-edged!Lord, help me through my trouble!" That is the kind of prayer that kills care-"supplication, with thanksgiving." Mix thesetwo things well! One drachma-no, two drachma of prayer-prayer and supplication, then one drachma of thanksgiving! Rub themtogether and they will make a blessed cure for care. May the Lord teach us to practice this holy art of the apothecary!
III. I finish with this third point, THE SWEET EFFECT OF THIS PRAYER-"And the peace of God, which passes all understanding,shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
If you can pray in this fashion, instead of indulging evil anxiety, the result will be that an unusual peace will steal overyour heart and mind. Unusual, for it will be "the peace of God." What is God's peace? The unruffled serenity of the infinitelyhappy God, the eternal composure of the absolutely well-contented God! This shall possess your heart and mind. Notice howPaul describes it-"The peace of God, which passes all understanding." Other people will not understand it. They will not beable to make out how you can be so quiet. What is more, you will not be able to tell them, for if it surpasses all understanding,it certainly passes all expression! And what is even more amazing-you will not understand it yourself!
It will be such a peace that it will be to you, unfathomable and immeasurable. When one of the martyrs was about to burn forChrist, he said to the judge who was giving orders to light the pile, "Will you come and lay your hand on my heart? "The judgedid so. "Does it beat fast?" enquired the martyr. "Do I show any sign of fear?" "No," said the judge. "Now lay your hand onyour own heart and see whether you are not more excited than I am." Think of that man of God, who, on the morning he was tobe burned, was so soundly asleep that they had to shake him to wake him-he had to get up to be burned! And yet knowing thatit was to be so, he had such confidence in God that he slept sweetly. This is "the peace of God, which passes all understanding."In those old Diocletian persecutions, when the martyrs came into the amphitheatre to be torn by wild beasts-when one was setin a red-hot iron chair, another was smeared with honey to be stung to death by wasps and bees-they never flinched!
Think of that brave man who was put on a gridiron to be roasted to death, who said to his persecutors, "You have done me onone side. Now turn me over to the other." Why this peace under such circumstances? It was "the peace of God, which passesall understanding." We do not have to suffer like that, nowadays, but if it ever comes to anything like that, it is wonderfulwhat peace a Christian enjoys! After there had been a great storm, the Master stood up in the prow of the vessel and saidto the winds, "Be still." And we read, "there was a great calm." Have you ever felt this? You feel it tonight if you havelearned this sacred art of making your requests known unto God in everything and the peace of God which passes all understandingis keeping your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
This blessed peace keeps our hearts and minds-it is a guardian peace. The Greek word implies a garrison. Is it not an oddthing that a military term is used here and that it is peace that acts as a guard to the heart and to the mind? It is thepeace of God that is to protect the child of God-strange but beautiful figure! I have heard that fear is the housekeeper fora Christian. Well, fear may be a good guardian to keep dogs out, but it has not a full cupboard! But peace, though it seemsweakness, is the essence of strength and, while it guards, it also feeds us and supplies all our needs.
It is also a peace which links us to Jesus-"The peace of God which passes all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds."That is, your affections and your thoughts, your desires and your intellect-your heart-so that it shall not fear.
Your mind, so that it shall not know any kind of perplexity-"the peace of God shall keep your hearts and minds through ChristJesus." It is all, "through Christ Jesus" and, therefore, it is doubly sweet and precious to us!
O my dear Hearers, some of you come in here on Thursday nights and you do not know anything about this peace of God and, perhaps,you wonder why we Christian people make such a fuss about our religion! Ah, if you knew, you would, perhaps, make more fussabout it than we do, for if there were no hereafter-and we know that there is-yet the blessed habit of going to God in prayerand casting all our care upon Him helps us to live most joyfully, even in this life! We do not believe in secularism, butif we did, there would be no preparation for the earthly life like this living unto God and living in God! If you have a shamgod and you merely go to Church or Chapel and carry your prayer book or your hymn book with you and, therefore, think youare Christians, you are deceiving yourselves! But if you have a living God and you have real fellowship with Him and constantly,as a habit, live beneath the shadow of the wings of the Almighty, then you shall enjoy a peace that shall make others wonderand make you, yourself, marvel, too, even, "the peace of God, which passes all understanding." God grant it to you, my belovedHearers, for Christ's sake! Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: Philippians 4
Verse 1. Therefore, my brethren, dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, do stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.You know that the Church at Philippi was very dear to the Apostle's heart. He could never forget the time when he and Silasprayed with the women at the riverside and afterwards prayed and sang praises unto God in the prison, when the prisoners heardthem. Lydia and her household and the Philippian jailor were among the first fruits of Paul's work at Philippi and there wasalways a very intimate love between him and the members of the Church in that place. They cared for him and he cared for them.Twice in this one verse he speaks of them as his, "dearly beloved." He says that he "longed for them, longed to come and seethem face to face, longed that they might be happy in the Lord to the very highest degree. So he says, "my brethren, dearlybeloved and longed for, my joy." It was such a joy to him, even, to think of them as his spiritual children and especiallyto see after what a godly and generous fashion they behaved themselves. Yes, and he calls them his, "crown"-a garland whichhe had won in spiritual wrestling! The Christian's converts are his joy, here, and they will be his crown forever in Heaven.Paul bade these Philippians, "stand fast in the Lord." It looks like a very simple thing to stand fast, but they who try todo it know how difficult a task it is.
2. I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord. Only two women who had fallen out withone another, but the Apostle is so anxious for perfect unity that he puts in a, "beseech," for each of them. He does not saywhich was right and which was wrong, but he would have them, "of the same mind in the Lord." Little differences, even betweenobscure members of the Church, may hinder the work of the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit is like a dove- and doves love quietplaces-they do not come where there is noise and strife. Oh, let us cultivate love towards one another! And if in anythingwe have disagreed at any time, let us think that we hear Paul saying, tonight, "I beseech Euodias, and I beseech Syntyche,that they be of the same mind in the Lord." Make up, my Sisters! Make up, my Brothers! Whatever the quarrel is, end it and,"be of the same mind in the Lord." Bought with the same precious blood, robed in the same perfect righteousness, on the wayto the same Heaven, "be of the same mind in the Lord."
3. And I entreat you also, true yokefellow, help those women which labored with me in the Gospel, with Clement, also, andwith other of my fellow laborers, whose names are in the Book of Life. We do not know who this "true yokefellow" was. Verylikely it was Epaphroditus who carried this Epistle to Philippi. Whoever it was, it was someone who had worked with Paul shoulderto shoulder. If two bullocks bear the same yoke and yet do not agree, they make it very uncomfortable for one another. Ifone tries to lie down and the other wants to stand up, or if one goes faster than the other, the yoke becomes doubly galling.Paul speaks of somebody here as having been his "true yokefellow"-and he says to him, "Help those women which labored withme in the Gospel."
What an eminent place women have always held in the service of the Lord Jesus Christ and here Paul speaks of them as laboringwith him in the Gospel! Surely Lydia must have been one of those. "With Clement, also, and with other of my fellow laborers,whose names are in the Book of Life." According to some learned commentators, a man's name may be in the Book of Life fora time, but it may be removed. If their teaching is true, that book will be very much scratched and blotted. I thank God thatI do not believe in any such book as that! If the Lord Jesus Christ has written my name in the Book of Life, in the greatfamily register of the redeemed, I defy all the devils of Hell to ever get it erased!
4. Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. If you ever rejoice in the Lord, you may always rejoice in the Lord,for He is always the same, and always gracious! There is as much reason for rejoicing in God at one time as at another, sinceHe never changes.
5. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The word, "moderation," in the Greek, is a very difficult word to translateinto English. It does not mean moderation in the sense in which some people use the word, for they make it, as I think, almostan accursed one. "Let your moderation"-your gentleness, your willingness, your forbearance-"be known unto all men." That iswhat it means. Do not push your own rights too far-stop short of what you might fairly demand and when you feel, at any time,a little vehement in temper, check yourself-hold yourself in, bear and forbear. Go not as far as you may, nor even as faras some think that you ought, in defending your own rights. Let your gentleness, your yielding-ness, be known unto all men.
5. The Lord is at hand. Christ is coming-why do you put yourself out? The Lord is near you to help you-why are you so excessivelyanxious? Why are you so carried away with the present temporary trial? "The Lord is at hand."
6. Be careful for nothing. Be anxiously careful for nothing! Sing, with Faber-
"I have no cares, O blessed Lord, For all my cares are Yours."
6-8. But in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God. And the peaceof God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whateverthings are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely,whatever things are of good report; if there is any virtue, and if there is any praise, think on these things. Everythingof this kind concerns you, therefore help it as far as you can. Be on the side of every cause that may be thus described.If it vindicates truth, uprightness, reverence, religion, chastity, holiness-be on that side. If there is anything the reverseof this, do not have anything to do with it, but if there is any movement in the world that will help forward things thatare true, honest, just, pure, lovely and of good report, "think on these things," and so think upon them as to increase theirinfluence among the sons and daughters of men!
9. Those things, which you have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do. It is well when a preacher canspeak like that-when he has not to say, "Do as I say and not as I do," but when, like the Apostle, he can say-"those things,which you have both learned, received, heard and seen in me, do."
9. And the God of Peace shall be with you. The God of Peace is always with those who receive His dear Son and who help HisGospel. It is one of the privileges of true Believers that the God of Peace shall be constantly with them.
10. But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now, at the last, your care of me has flourished again; wherein you were alsocareful, but you lacked opportunity. Paul was in prison at Rome and these Philippians had made a contribution. And they hadsent Epaphroditus with it to relieve the Apostle in his poverty, so he said to them, "You cared for me before; but for a timeyou had not the opportunity of helping me, and now you have thought of me, again, therefore I rejoice in the Lord greatly."
11. Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatever state I am, therewith to be content. Is not thata splendid piece of learning? Paul was a learned man and so are you, if you have learned this lesson! You may not be ableto put D.D., or LL.D., after your name, but you are a learned man if you can say, "I have learned, in whatever state I am,therewith to be content."
12. I know both how to be abased and I know how to abound. These are two grand things to learn. There are some who know thefirst, but who do not know the second. I have known several of God's children who seemed quite eminent for piety when theywere abased, but they were never worth anything after they grew rich. They did not know how to abound- they became top-heavyand far too great for their britches! It was not so with the Apostle, for he could truthfully say, "I know both how to beabased and I know how to abound."
12. Everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. Washe not a true Master of Arts? He had mastered the art of being hungry without murmuring, the art of being full without boasting,the art of suffering need without impatience, the art of abounding without setting his affection on worldly things. He was,indeed, a Master of Arts of the very highest order!
13. I can do all things-That looks like bragging, does it not? Finish the sentence.
14. Through Christ which strengthens me. There is no improper boasting, here, for Paul could do all things through Christ'smighty power! It has been well said that the angels excel in strength, but the saints excel in their weakness. When we aremost weak, and Christ strengthens us, then are the most excellent virtues produced.
14-17. Notwithstanding, you have done well, that you did communicate with my affliction. Now you Philippians know, also, thatin the beginning of the Gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no Church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving,but you, only. For even in Thessalonica you sent once and again unto my necessity. Not because I desired a gift: but I desirefruit that may abound to your account. Their liberality was set down to their account in God's book.
18, 19. But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odorof a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God. But my God shall supply all your needs according to His richesin Glory by Christ Jesus. It is Paul's God who took care of the Philippians and it is Paul's God who will take care of youand me! "My God," says Paul, "shall supply all your needs-not as you have supplied mine, out of your poverty, but accordingto His riches in Glory by Christ Jesus"! Do not imagine that you will ever exhaust God's riches in Glory, or drain the nationaltreasury of all-sufficiency-that cannot be.
20. Now unto God and our Father be Glory forever and ever. Amen. He blesses us, let us bless Him! He supplies all our needsaccording to His riches in Glory-let us extol his Glory forever and ever.
21. Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. Give him a shake of the hand. Say, "How are you, my Brother? I wish you well." Thesehearty salutations ought to be common in every Christian assembly. I always deprecate that wonderful respectability that existsin some places of worship where nobody knows anybody else. They are too respectable to become acquainted with their brethren.If you are in Christ Jesus, get to know one another! "Salute every saint in Christ Jesus."
21, 22. The brethren which are with me greet you. All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar's household.I suppose most of these were only slaves in the imperial household. There may have been one or two, perhaps, of a higher class,but, in all probability, the Gospel first reached the slaves in the Roman palace, that pandemonium of vice, where lust andcruelty abounded. There were saints even there-and God still has some of His jewels lying on dunghills!
23. The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.