This week we open Philippians 4, which contains one of the most quoted verses in the Bible. We have seen why Jesus is our ultimate example of humility that inspires us to press on to holiness. We have also studied how the gospel should infuse every aspect of our lives. This week Matt Chandler shows us in Chapter 9 of To Live is Christ, To Die is Gain what our lives would look like if we live our lives for Christ. We will learn that it is possible to rejoice in the Lord always and in all circumstances because of God’s sovereignty and his providence.
Reading for the Week
Chapter 9 – Rejoice?
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand.Philippians 4:4-5
Sitting on a cold, dirty floor of a cruel Roman prison Paul instructs the congregation of Philippians to rejoice. Always. How is this possible?
Matt Chandler makes the critical point that Paul is not instructing the readers to act all happy and pretend everything is fine. That is what many Christians believe is true faith. Instead, we base our joy on who God is and what he is capable of. This truth never changes. So our joy should be constant.
Let your reasonableness be known
Difficult circumstances can quickly suck our reasonableness (or rationality, common sense) out. But the reasonableness Paul is referring to is not predicated on our circumstances. Rather, it is based on the truth that “the Lord is at hand” (Philippians 4:5). No matter what we go through we can know that God is near.
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgements and how inscrutable his ways!Romans 11:33
If we have all the head knowledge of scripture and understand the gospel but it does not cause us to worship our Creator God with sincere hearts, then we have missed the point. God is on His throne and everything is under His sovereign control. Nothing happens (or doesn’t happen) without his consent. Everything belongs to him and he can make anything new out of nothing. He sustains it all with His power.
This is why we can rejoice. We know that regardless of the outcome, God willed it so.
Not only is he watching over the big picture, but God reigns over every detail of our lives through his providence. God can use any situation to establish his purposes. Matt Chandler uses the example of his wife being stuck at the airport only to find an opportunity to share the gospel with a stranger. God cares about every detail of our lives.
Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?Jeremiah 32:26-27
We can only rejoice in all circumstances if we believe with our whole being that “His love and His sovereignty are real”. When our minds run away from reasonableness we can trust that nothing is too hard for the Lord even when we see no solution. God is never shocked or surprised by our struggles. He doesn’t have to come and fix things afterwards. “He’s there. He knows.”
God is not glorified when you act happy when your world is falling apart. He is glorified when you can trust him and call for his help in your darkest pain. “The God of the universe does not show up late and is not out of control.”
God is always loving, even when it does not feel like it. We easily feel abandoned when life does not go our way, but instead, he wants us to offer Him our pain and doubt, trusting Him to work it all out for our good (Romans 8:28).
Cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.1 Peter 5:7
Here are some questions to help you reflect on the reading for this week.