Sermon 2405. Joy, a Duty
INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S DAY, MARCH 24, 1895.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON LORD'S-DAY EVENING, MARCH 20, 1887.
"Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice." Philippians 4:4
THERE is a marvelous medicinal power in joy. Most medicines are distasteful, but this, which is the best of all medicines,is sweet to the taste and comforting to the heart. We noticed, in our reading, that there had been a little tiff between twosisters in the Church at Philippi-I am glad that we do not know what the quarrel was about. I am usually thankful for ignoranceon such subjects-but, as a cure for disagreements, the Apostle says, "Rejoice in the Lord always." People who are very happy,especially those who are very happy in the Lord, are not apt either to give offense or to take offense. Their minds are sosweetly occupied with higher things that they are not easily distracted by the little troubles which naturally arise amongsuch imperfect creatures as we are. Joy in the Lord is the cure for all discord. Should it not be so? What is this joy butthe concord of the soul, the accord of the heart, with the joy of Heaven? Joy in the Lord, then, drives away the discordsof earth.
Further, Brothers and Sisters, notice that the Apostle, after he had said, "Rejoice in the Lord always," commanded the Philippiansto be careful for nothing, thus implying that joy in the Lord is one of the best preparations for the trials of this life.The cure for care is joy in the Lord! No, my Brother, you will not be able to keep on with your fretfulness. No, my Sister,you will not be able to weary yourself, any longer, with your anxieties if the Lord will but fill you with His joy! Then,being satisfied with your God, yes, more than satisfied, and overflowing with delight in Him, you will say to yourself, "Whyare you cast down, O my Soul? And why are you disquieted in me? Hope you in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help ofHis Countenance."
What is there on earth that is worth fretting for, even, for five minutes? If one could gain an imperial crown by a day ofcare, it would be too great an expense for a thing which would bring more care with it. Therefore, let us be thankful, letus be joyful in the Lord. I count it one of the wisest things that, by rejoicing in the Lord, we commence our Heaven herebelow. It is possible to do so-it is profitable to do so-and we are commanded to do so!
Now I come to the text, itself, "Rejoice in the Lord always; and again I say, Rejoice."
I. It will be our first business at this time to consider THE GRACE COMMANDED, this Grace of joy. "Rejoice in the Lord," saysthe Apostle.
In the first place, this is a very delightful thing. What a gracious God we serve, who makes delight to be a duty and whocommands us to rejoice! Should we not at once be obedient to such a command as this? It is intended that we should be happy.That is the meaning of the precept, that we should be cheerful-more than that, that we should be thankful! More than that,that we should rejoice! I think this word, "rejoice," is almost a French word-it is not only joy, but it is joy over again,re-joice! You know re usually signifies the re-duplication of a thing, the taking of it over, again. We are to joy, and thenwe are to re-joy. We are to chew the cud of delight-we are to roll the dainty morsel under our tongue till we get the veryessence out of it!
"Rejoice." Joy is a delightful thing. You cannot be too happy, Brothers and Sisters! No, do not suspect yourself of beingwrong because you are full of delight. You know it is said of the Divine Wisdom, "Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and allher paths are peace." Provided that it is joy in the Lord, you cannot have too much of it! The fly is drowned in the honey,or the sweet syrup into which he plunges himself, but this heavenly syrup of delight will not drown your soul or intoxicateyour heart! It will do you good, not evil, all the days of your life. God never commanded us to do a thing which would harmus and, when He bids us rejoice, we may be sure that this is as delightful as it is safe, and as safe as it is delightful!Come, Brothers and Sisters, I am inviting you, now, to no distasteful duty when, in the name of my Master, I say to you, asPaul said to the Philippians under the teaching of the Holy Spirit, "Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice."
But, next, this is a demonstrative duty-"Rejoice in the Lord." There may be such a thing as a dumb joy, but I hardly thinkthat it can keep dumb long. Joy! Joy! Why, it speaks for itself! It is like a candle lighted in a dark chamber-you need notsound a trumpet and say, "Now light has come." The candle proclaims itself by its own brilliance and, when joy comes intoa man, it shines out of his eyes, it sparkles in his countenance! There is a something about every limb of the man that betokensthat his body, like a well-tuned harp, has had its strings put in order! Joy-it refreshes the marrow of the bones, it quickensthe flowing of the blood in the veins-it is a healthy thing in all respects. It is a speaking thing, a demonstrative thingand, I am sure that joy in the Lord ought to have a tongue! When the Lord sends you affliction, Sister, you generally grumbleloudly enough. When the Lord tries you, my dear Brother, you generally speak fast enough about that.
Now, when, on the other hand, the Lord multiplies His mercies to you, speak about it! Sing about it! I cannot remember, sinceI was a boy, ever seeing in the newspapers, columns of thankfulness and expressions of delight about the prosperity of businessin England. It is a long, long time since I was first able to read newspapers-a great many years, now-but I do not rememberthe paragraphs in which it was said that everybody was getting on in the world and growing rich. But as soon as there wasany depression in business, what gloomy articles appeared concerning the dreadful times which had fallen upon the agriculturalinterest and every other interest! Oh, my dear Brothers and Sisters, from the way some of you grumble, I might imagine youwere all ruined if I did not know better! I knew some of you when you were not worth two-pence-and you are pretty well-to-donow. You have got on uncommonly well for men who are being ruined! From the way some people talk, you might imagine that everybodyis bankrupt and that we are all going to the dogs together! But it is not so and what a pity it is that we do not give theLord some of our praises when we have better times! If we are so loud and so eloquent over our present woes, why could wenot have been as eloquent and as loud in thanksgiving for the blessings that God formerly granted to us? Perhaps the merciesburied in oblivion have been to Heaven and accused us to the Lord and, therefore, He has sent us the sorrows of today. Truejoy, when it is joy in the Lord, must speak-it cannot hold its tongue-it must praise the name of the Lord!
Further, this blessed Grace of joy is very contagious. It is a great privilege, I think, to meet a truly happy man, a graciouslyhappy man. My mind goes back, at this moment, to that dear man of God who used to be with us, years ago, whom we called, "OldFather Dransfield." What a lump of sunshine that man was! I think that I never came into this place with a heavy heart, butthe very sight of him seemed to fill me with exhilaration, for his joy was wholly in his God! An old man and full of years,but as full of happiness as he was full of days! He was always having something to tell you to encourage you. He constantlymade a discovery of some fresh mercy for which we were again to praise God! O dear Brothers and Sisters, let us rejoice inthe Lord that we may set others rejoicing! One dolorous spirit brings a kind of plague into the house-one person who is alwayswretched seems to stop all the birds singing wherever he goes! But, as the birds sing to each other and one morning songsterquickens all the rest, and sets the groves ringing with harmony, so will it be with the happy cheerful spirit of a man whoobeys the command of the text, "Rejoice in the Lord always." This Grace of joy is contagious!
Besides, dear Brothers and Sisters, joy in the Lord is influential for good. I am sure that there is a mighty influence wieldedby a consistently joyous spirit. See how little children are affected by the presence of a happy person! There is much morein the tone of the life than there is in the particular fashion of the life. It may be the life of one who is very poor, butoh, how poverty is gilded by a cheerful spirit! It may be the life of one who is well read and deeply instructed, but, oh,if there is a beauty of holiness and a beauty of happiness added to the learning, nobody talks about "the blue stocking,"or, "the bookworm" being dull and heavy! Oh, no, there is a charm about holy joy! I wish we had more of it! There are manymore flies caught with honey than with vinegar and there are many more sinners brought to Christ by happy Christians thanby doleful Christians! Let us sing unto the Lord as long as we live and, perhaps some weary sinner who has discovered theemptiness of sinful pleasure, will say to himself, "Why, after all, there must be something real about the joy of these Christians!Let me go and learn how I may have it." And when he comes and sees it in the light of your gladsome countenance, he will belikely to learn it, God helping him, so as never to forget it. "Rejoice in the Lord always," says the Apostle, for joy isa most influential Grace, and every child of God ought to possess it in a high degree.
I want you to notice, dear Friends, that this rejoicing is commanded. It is not a matter that is left to your option. It isnot set before you as a desirable thing which you can do without-it is a positive precept of the Holy Spirit to all who arein the Lord-"Rejoice in the Lord always." We ought to obey this precept because joy in the Lord makes us like God. He is thehappy God-ineffable bliss is the atmosphere in which He lives and He would have His people to be happy. Let the devotees ofBaal cut themselves with knives and lancets, and make hideous outcries if they will, but the servants of Jehovah must noteven mar the corners of their beard! Even if they fast, they shall anoint their head and wash their face, that they appearnot unto men to fast, for a joyous God desires a joyous people!
You are commanded to rejoice, Brothers and Sisters, because this is for your profit. Holy joy will oil the wheels of yourlife's machinery. Holy joy will strengthen you for your daily labor. Holy joy will beautify you and, as I have already said,give you an influence over the lives of others. It is upon this point that I would most of all insist-we are commanded torejoice in the Lord. If you cannot speak the Gospel, live the Gospel by your cheerfulness, for what is the Gospel? Glad tidingsof great joy and you who believe it must show, by its effect upon you, that it is glad tidings of great joy to you! I believethat a man of God-under trial and difficulty and affliction, bearing up, and patiently submitting with holy acquiescence,and still rejoicing in God-is a real preacher of the Gospel, preaching with an eloquence which is mightier than words canever be and which will find its secret and silent way into the hearts of those who might have resisted other arguments! Oh,do, then, listen to the text, for it is a command from God-"Rejoice in the Lord always!"
May I just pause, here, and hand this commandment round to all of you who are members of this Church, and to all of you whoare truly members of Christ? You are bid to rejoice in the Lord always! You are not allowed to sit there and fret and fume!You are not permitted to complain and groan. Mourner, you are commanded to put on beauty for ashes and the oil of joy formourning! For this purpose your Savior came-the Spirit of the Lord is upon Him for this very end, that He might make you rejoice!Therefore, sing with the Prophet, "I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothedme with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments,and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels."
II. Now we come to the second head, on which I will speak but briefly, that is, THE JOY DISCRIMINATED- "Rejoice in the Lord."
Notice the sphere of this joy. "Rejoice in the Lord." We read in Scripture that children are to obey their parents "in theLord." We read of men and women being married "only in the Lord." Now, dear Friends, no child of God must go outside thatring, "in the Lord." There is where you are, where you ought to be, where you must be. You cannot truly rejoice if you getoutside that ring and, therefore, see that you do nothing which you cannot do "in the Lord." Mind that you seek no joy whichis not joy in the Lord. If you go after the poisonous sweets of this world, woe be to you! Never rejoice in that which issinful, for all such rejoicing is evil. Flee from it-it can do you no good. That joy which you cannot share with God is nota right joy for you. No! "In the Lord" is the sphere of your joy.
But I think that the Apostle also means that God is to be the great Object of your joy. "Rejoice in the Lord." Rejoice inthe Father, your Father who is in Heaven, your loving, tender, unchangeable God! Rejoice, too, in the Son, your Redeemer,your Brother, the Husband of your soul, your Prophet, Priest and King! Rejoice, also, in the Holy Spirit, your Quickener,your Comforter, in Him who shall abide with you forever. Rejoice in the one God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob-in Himdelight yourselves, as it is written, "Delight yourself, also, in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart."We cannot have too much of this joy in the Lord, for the great Jehovah is our exceeding joy! Or if, by, "the Lord," is meantthe Lord Jesus, then let me invite, persuade, command you to delight in the Lord Jesus, Incarnate in your flesh, dead foryour sins, risen for your justification, gone into Glory claiming victory for you, sitting at the right hand of God intercedingfor you, reigning over all worlds on your behalf and soon to come to take you up into His Glory that you may be with Him forever!Rejoice in the Lord Jesus! This is a sea of delight-blessed are they that dive into its utmost depths!
Sometimes, Brothers and Sisters, you cannot rejoice in anything else, but you can rejoice in the Lord. Then rejoice in Himto the fullest. Do not rejoice in your temporal prosperity, for riches take to themselves wings and fly away. Do not rejoice,even, in your great successes in the work of God. Remember how the 70 disciples came back to Jesus and said,
"Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through Your name," and He answered, "Notwithstanding, in this rejoice not, thatthe spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice because your names are written in Heaven." Do not rejoice in your privileges-Imean, do not make the great joy of your life to be the fact that you are favored with this and that external privilege orordinance-but rejoice in God! He changes not. If the Lord is your joy, your joy will never dry up! All other things are butfor a season, but God is forever and ever. Make Him your joy, the whole of your joy, and then let this joy absorb your everythought! Be baptized into this joy! Plunge into the deeps of this unutterable bliss of joy in
III. Thirdly, let us think of THE TIME APPOINTED for this rejoicing-"Rejoice in the Lord always."
"Always." Well, then, that begins at once, certainly. So let us now begin to rejoice in the Lord. If any of you have takena gloomy view of religion, I beseech you to throw that gloomy view away at once. "Rejoice in the Lord always," therefore,rejoice in the Lord now! I recollect what a damper I had, as a young Christian, when I had but lately believed in Jesus Christ.I felt that, as the Lord had said, "He that believes in Me has everlasting life," I, having believed in Him, had everlastinglife and I said so, with the greatest joy and delight and enthusiasm, to an old Christian man. And he said to me, "Bewareof presumption! There are a great many who think they have eternal life, but who have not got it." That was quite true, but,for all that, is there not more presumption in doubting God's promise than there is in believing it?
Is there any presumption in taking God at His Word? Is there not gross presumption in hesitating and questioning as to whetherthese things are so or not? If God says that they are so, then they are so, whether I feel that they are so or not-and itis my place, as a Believer-to accept God's bare Word and rest on it. "We count checks as cash," said one who was making upaccounts. Good checks are to be counted as cash and the promises of God, though as yet unfulfilled, are as good as the blessings,themselves, for God cannot lie, or make a promise that He will not perform! Let us, therefore, not be afraid of being glad,but begin to be glad, at once, if we have, up to now, taken a gloomy view of true religion and have been afraid to rejoice.
When are we to be glad? "Rejoice in the Lord always." That is, when you cannot rejoice in anything or anyone but God. Whenthe fig tree does not blossom, when there is no fruit on the vine and no herd in the stall. When everything withers and decaysand perishes. When the worm at the root of the gourd has made it die, then rejoice in the Lord! When the day darkens intoevening and the evening into midnight-and the midnight into a sevenfold horror of great darkness-rejoice in the Lord! Andwhen that darkness does not clear, but becomes more dense and Egyptian. When night succeeds night and neither sun nor moonnor stars appear, still rejoice in the Lord always! He who uttered these words had been a night and a day in the deep. Hehad been stoned, he had suffered from false brethren. He had been in peril of his life and yet, most fittingly do those lipscry out to us, "Rejoice in the Lord always!" Yes, at the stake, itself, martyrs have fulfilled this Word of God-they clappedtheir hands amid the fire that was consuming them! Therefore, rejoice in the Lord when you cannot rejoice in any other.
But also take care that you rejoice in the Lord when you have other things to rejoice in. When He loads your table with goodthings and your cup is overflowing with blessings, rejoice in Him more than in them. Forget not that the Lord, your Shepherd,is better than the green pastures and the still waters-rejoice not in the pastures or in the waters in comparison with yourjoy in the Shepherd who gives you all! Let us never make gods out of our goods! Let us never allow what God gives us to supplantthe Giver. Shall the wife love the jewels that her husband gave her more than she loves him who gave them to her? That werean evil love, or no love at all! So, let us love God, first, and rejoice in the Lord always when the day is brightest andmultiplied are the other joys that He permits us to have.
"Rejoice in the Lord always." That is, if you have not rejoiced before, begin to do so at once. And when you have long rejoiced,keep on at it. I have known, sometimes, that things have gone so smoothly that I have said, "There will be a check to thisprosperity! I know that there will. Things cannot go on quite so pleasantly always."-
"More the treacherous calm I dread Than tempests lowering overhead.'" One is apt to spoil his joy by the apprehension thatthere is some evil coming. Now listen to this-"He shall not be afraid of evil tidings: his heart is fixed, trusting in theLord." "Rejoice in the Lord always." Do not anticipate trouble. "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." Take the goodthat God provides you and rejoice not merely in it, but in Him who provided it. So may you enjoy it without fear, for thereis good salt with that food which is eaten as coming from the hand of God.
"Rejoice in the Lord always." That is, when you get into company, then rejoice in the Lord. Do not be ashamed to let otherssee that you are glad. Rejoice in the Lord, also, when you are alone. I know what happens to some of you on Sunday night.You have had such a blessed Sabbath and you have gone away from the Lord's Table with the very flavor of Heaven in your mouths!And then some of you have had to go home where everything is against you. The husband does not receive you with any sympathywith your joy, or the father does not welcome you with any fellowship in your delight. Well, but still, "Rejoice in the Lordalways." When you cannot get anybody else to rejoice with you, still continue to rejoice! There is a way of looking at everythingwhich will show you that the blackest cloud has a silver lining. There is a way of looking at all things in the Light of Godwhich will turn into sweetness that which otherwise had been bitter as gall!
I do not know whether any of you keep a quassia cup at home. If you do, you know that it is made of wood, and you pour waterinto the bowl and the water turns bitter, directly, before you drink it. You may keep this cup as long as you like, but italways embitters the water that is put into it. I think that I know some dear Brothers and Sisters who always seem to haveone of these cups handy. Now, instead of that, I want you to buy a cup of another kind that shall make everything sweet, whateverit is! Whatever God pleases to pour out of the bowl of Providence shall come into your cup and your contentment, your delightin God, shall sweeten it all! God bless you, dear Friends, with much of this holy joy!
IV. So now I finish with the fourth head, which is this, THE EMPHASIS LAID ON THE COMMAND-"Rejoice in the Lord always: andagain I say, Rejoice." What does that mean, "Again I say, Rejoice"?
This was, first, to show Paul's love for the Philippians. He wanted them to be happy. They had been so kind to him and theyhad made him so happy, that he said, "Oh, dear Brothers, do rejoice! Dear Sisters, do rejoice! I say it twice over to you,'Be happy, be happy,' because I love you so much that I am anxious to have you, beyond all things else, rejoice in the Lordalways."
I also think that, perhaps, he said it twice over to suggest the difficulty of continual joy. It is not so easy as some thinkto always rejoice. It may be for you young people, who are yet strong in limb, who have few aches and pains and none of theinfirmities of life. It may be an easy thing to those placed in easy circumstances, with few cares and difficulties. But thereare some of God's people who need great Grace if they are to rejoice in the Lord always. And the Apostle knew that, so hesaid, "Again I say, Rejoice." He repeats the precept, as much as to say, "I know it is a difficult thing and so I the moreearnestly press it upon you. Again I say, Rejoice."
I think, too, that he said it twice over, to assert the possibility of it. This was as much as if he had said, "I told youto rejoice in the Lord always. You opened your eyes and looked with astonishment upon me, but, 'Again I say, Rejoice.' Itis possible, it is practicable! I have not spoken unwisely. I have not told you to do what you never can do, but with deliberationI write it down, 'Again I say, Rejoice.' You can be happy! God the Holy Spirit can lift you above the doldrums of the flesh,and of the world, and of the devil-and you may be enabled to live upon the mountain of God beneath the shinings of His face!'Again I say, Rejoice.'"
Do you not think that this was intended, also, to impress upon them the importance of the duty? "Again I say, Rejoice." Someof you will go and say, "I do not think that it matters much whether I am happy or not. I shall get to Heaven, however gloomyI am, if I am sincere." "No," says Paul, "that kind of talk will not do! I cannot have you speak like that. Come, I must haveyou rejoice! I really conceive it to be a Christian's bounden duty and so, 'Again, I say, Rejoice.'"
But do you not think, also, that Paul repeated the command to allow for special personal testimony? "Again, I say, Rejoice.I, Paul, a sufferer to the utmost extent for Christ's sake, even now an ambassador in bonds, shut up in a dungeon-I say toyou, Rejoice." Paul was a greatly-tried man, but he was a blessedly happy man. There is not one of us but would gladly changeconditions with Paul, if that were possible, now that we see the whole of his life written out. And tonight, looking acrossthe ages, over all the scenes of trouble which he encountered, he says to us, "Brothers and Sisters, rejoice in the Lord always:and again I say, Rejoice."
Did you ever notice how full of joy this Epistle to the Philippians is? Will you spare me just a minute while I get you torun your eyes through it to observe what a joyful letter it is? You notice that, in the first chapter, Paul gets only as faras the fourth verse when he says, "Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy." Now he is in his rightvein! He is so glad because of what God has done for the Philippians that when he prays for them, he mixes joy with his prayer!In the 16th verse he declares that he found joy, even, in the opposition of those who preached Christ in order to rival him.Hear what he says-"The one preaches Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: but theother of love, knowing that I am set for the defense of the Gospel. What then? Notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence,or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yes, and will rejoice."
And he does not finish the chapter till, in the 25th verse, he declares that he had joy, even, in the expectation of not goingto Heaven just yet, but living a little longer to do good to these people-"And having this confidence, I know that I shallabide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith; that your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christfor me by my coming to you again." You see it is joy, joy, joy, joy! Paul seems to go from rung to rung of the ladder of theLight of God, as if he were climbing up from Nero's dungeon into Heaven, itself, by way of continual joy! So he writes, inthe second verse of the second chapter, "Fulfill you my joy, that you be like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord,of one mind." When he gets to the 16th verse, he says, "That I may rejoice in the Day of Christ, that I have not run in vain,neither labored in vain."
But I am afraid that I should weary you if I went through the Epistle thus, slowly, verse by verse. Just notice how he beginsthe third chapter-"Finally, my Brothers and Sisters, rejoice in the Lord." The word is sometimes rendered "farewell." Whenhe says, "Rejoice," it is the counterpart of, "welcome." We say to a man who comes to our house, "Salve"-"Welcome." When hegoes away, it is our duty to "speed the parting guest" and say, "Farewell." This is what Paul meant to say here. "Finally,my Brothers and Sisters, fare you well in the Lord. Be happy in the Lord. Rejoice in the Lord." And I do not think that Ican finish up my sermon better than by saying on this Sabbath night, "Finally, my Brothers and Sisters, fare you well, behappy in the Lord."-
"Fareyou well! And if forever, Still forever, fare you well."
May that be your position, to so walk with God that your fare shall be that of angels! May you eat angels' food, the mannaof God's love! May your drink be from the Rock that flows with a pure stream! So may you feed and so may you drink until youcome unto the mountain of God, where you shall see His face unveiled and, standing in His exceeding brightness, shall knowHis Glory, being glorified with the saved! Till then, be happy. Why, even-
"The thought of such amazing bliss, Should constantjoys create."
Be happy! If the present is dreary, it will soon be over. Oh, but a little while and we shall be transferred from these seatsbelow to the thrones above! We shall go from the place of aching brows to the place where they all wear crowns! From the placeof weary hands to where they bear the palm branch of victory! From the place of mistake and error and sin, and consequentgrief, to the place where they are without fault before the Throne of God, for they have washed their robes and made themwhite in the blood of the Lamb!
Come, then, let us make a solemn league and covenant together in the name of God, and let it be called, "The Guild of theHappy," for the-
"Favorites of the Heavenly King May speak their joys abroad."
No, they must speak their joys abroad! Let us endeavor to do so, always, by the help of the Holy Spirit. Amen and Amen!
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: PHILIPPIANS4.
This Epistle was written by Paul when he was in prison with iron fetters about his wrists, yet there is no iron in the Epistle.It is full of light, life, love and joy-blended with traces of sorrow-yet with a holy delight that rises above his grief.
Verse 1. Therefore, my Brothers and Sisters dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, mydearly beloved. See how the heart of the Apostle is at work! His emotions are not dried up by his personal griefs. He takesa delight in his friends at Philippi! He has a lively recollection of the time when he and Silas were shut up in prison, there,and that same night baptized the jailor and his household-and formed the Church at Philippi!
2. I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord. These two good women had fallen outwith one another. Paul loves them so much that he would not have any strife in the Church to mar its harmony and he, therefore,beseeches both of these good women to end their quarrel, and to, "be of the same mind in the Lord." You cannot tell what hurtmay come to a Church through two members being at enmity against each other. They may be unknown persons. They may be Christianwomen, but they can work no end of mischief and, therefore, it is a most desirable thing that they should speedily come together,again, in peace and unity.
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. He tenderly thinks of all those who had helped thework of the Lord and, in return, he would have all of them helped, and kindly remembered, and affectionately cherished. Maywe always have this tender feeling towards one another-especially towards those who work for the Lord with us! May we alwaysdelight in cheering those who serve our Lord!
4. 5. Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.We have come to understand this word, "moderation," in a sense not at all intended here. The best translation would probablybe, "forbearance." Do not get angry with anybody. Do not begin to get fiery and impetuous-be forbearing, for the Lord is athand. You cannot tell how soon He may appear. There is no time to spare for the indulgence of anger. Be quiet. Be patientand if there is anything very wrong, well, leave it. Our Lord Jesus will come very soon, therefore be not impatient.
6. Be careful-That is, be anxious-
6. For nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. Seehow the Apostle would bid us throw anxiety to the winds-let us try to do so. You cannot turn one hair white or black, fretas you may. You cannot add a cubit to your stature, be you as anxious as you please. It will be for your own advantage andit will be for God's Glory for you to shake off the anxieties which otherwise might overshadow your spirit. Be anxious aboutnothing, but prayerful about everything-and be thankful about everything as well! Is not that a beautiful trait in Paul'scharacter? He is a prisoner at Rome and likely soon to die-yet he mingles thanksgiving with his supplication and asks othersto do the same! We have always something for which to thank God, therefore let us also obey the Apostolic injunction.
7, 8. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally,Brothers and Sisters, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things arepure, 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. If there is any really good movement in the world, help it, you Christian people! If it is not purelyand absolutely religious, yet if it tends to the benefit of your fellow men, if it promotes honesty, justice, purity, takecare that you are on that side and do all you can to help it forward.
9. Those things, which you have both learned and received, and heard, and seen in me, do. Paul was a grand preacher to beable to say that-to hold up his own example, as well as his own teaching as a thing which the people might safely follow!
9. And the God of peace shall be with you. In the seventh verse, we had the expression, "the peace of God." In this ninthverse, we have the mention of, "the God of peace." May we first enjoy the peace of God and then be helped by the Spirit ofGod to get into a still higher region where we shall be more fully acquainted with the God of peace!
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. "I rejoiced." So Paul was, himself, in a happy mood! These saints in Philippi had sentto him in prison a gift by the hand of one of their pastors, and Paul, in his deep poverty, had been much comforted by theirkind thoughtfulness about him.
11. Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned in whatever state I am, therewith to be content. That was notan easy lesson to learn, especially when one of those states meant being in prison at Rome. If he was ever in the Mammertine,those of us who have been in that dungeon would confess that it would take a deal of Grace to make us content to be there!And if he was shut up in the prison of the Palatine Hill, in the barracks near the morass, it was, to say the least, not adesirable place to be. A soldier chained to your hand day and night, however good a fellow he may be, does not always makethe most delightful company for you, nor you for him-and it takes some time to learn to be content with such a companion.But, says Paul, "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: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full andto be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. These are both hard lessons to learn. I do not know which is the more difficultof the two. Probably it is easier to know how to go down than to know how to go up. How many Christians have I seen grandlyglorifying God in sickness and poverty when they have come down in the world, and ah, how often have I seen other Christiansdishonoring God when they have grown rich, or when they have risen to a position of influence among their fellow men! Thesetwo lessons, Grace, alone, can fully teach us.
13. I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me. What a gracious attainment! There is no boasting in this declaration.Paul only spoke what was literally the truth.
14. 15. 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. The Philippians were the only Christians who had sent any help to this great sufferer for Christ's sake inthe time of his need.
16-18. For even in Thessalonica you sent once and again unto my necessity. Not because I desire a gift, but I desire fruitthat may abound to your account. But I have all and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which weresent from you, an odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God. I do not suppose that they sent himvery much, but he knew the love that prompted the gift-he understood what they meant by it. I always had a fancy that Lydiawas the first to suggest that kind deed. She, the first convert of the Philippian Church, thought of Paul, I doubt not, andsaid to the other Believers, "Let us take care of him as far as we can. See how he spends his whole life in the Master's service,and now he may, at last, die in prison for lack of even common necessities. Let us send a present to him in Rome." How gratefulis the Apostle for that gift of love! What gladness they had put into his heart! Now he says-
19. But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. "You have supplied my need outof your poverty. My God shall supply all your need out of His riches. Your greatest need shall not exceed the liberality ofHis supplies."
20. 21. Now unto God and our Father be glory forever and ever. Amen. Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The religion of Christis full of courtesy and it is full of generous thoughtfulness. I do not think that he can be a Christian who has no knowledgenor care about his fellow Church members.
21. The Brothers and Sisters which are with me greet you. They saw that he was writing a letter and they, therefore, said,"Send our love to the Philippians."
2. All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar's household. Only think of saints in the household of Nero,saints in the service of such a demon as he was, and saints who were first in every good thing! "Chiefly they that are ofCaesar's household."
23. The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.