Peace and Thanksgiving
Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:5-7
How can we have peace and be thankful with all that’s going on in the world? Not just far away, but also in our neighborhoods, our households, and, sometimes, our bodies? If I asked you to list all the situations that might cause you anxiety, I wonder if your list would be as long as mine.
Paul tells us how we can have peace in Philippians 4:1-9. Continue to be gentle—the fruit of the Spirit—as opposed to being angry and vengeful. The Lord is near. He knows what’s happening. Make a choice to not be anxious. Pray, petition with thanksgiving. (vv. 5-6). God already knows our needs, but it helps us to speak them aloud.
Do you find it difficult to be thankful? Paul gives a helpful list: “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (vv. 8-9). We should not withdraw from what’s going on in the world or in our personal life—we can’t, in fact. But the things we let our minds dwell on should come from Paul’s list, not from the newspaper headlines.
If we watch our thoughts, a supernatural peace “which transcends all understanding, will guard [our] hearts and [our] minds in Christ Jesus (v.7). Christ Jesus alone is noble, righteous, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy. He is transforming us into His image: “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
Remember, Paul wrote most of his letters from prison. Envision his joy as he recalled the people of Galatia, Philippi, Ephesus, and Corinth, among others. He was thankful for them. Be thankful that God still makes people righteous by the life, death, and resurrection of Christ Jesus. Aren’t you thankful that He is also still at work transforming imperfect people like us?
After your prayer of thanksgiving, rest in the peace of God. No matter what the circumstances, the Lord is near!
Who did Paul mention in his letter (Philippians 4:1-4)? What can come between brothers and sisters in the Lord? How can we help believers who have differences of opinion? Note these women were probably leaders in the church and therefore influencing others to take sides.
Paul used the expression “the peace of God” (Philippians 4:7) rather than “peace with God” or “peace from God.” How are these different? See Romans 15:33, 16:20; and 2 Corinthians 13:11. Ask for the peace of God to make it possible for you to have joy in tough times and to restore relationships.
See also A Song of Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving Praise under Dig into Holidays.
Nancy J. Baker