Rejoice. It’s a theme that Paul keeps coming back to throughout his letter to the Philippians. But the Philippian church isn’t doing much rejoicing. They’re split into at least two factions, probably more. The reasons for the split are not clear; he warns about common enemies that might come, but they don’t appear to be there yet. Instead, he appeals to them to follow examples of how to be caring and self-giving — Jesus, Timothy, Epaphroditus (the church at Philippi’s own cofounder), and himself.
Paul loves this church. He speaks as someone who is torn when it is torn, uplifted when it raises upward. He is concerned that maybe they’ve lost track of what they have to rejoice over. “The Lord is near”, Paul writes. And with Him comes the peace of God beyond all understanding.
When our life together is marked by bickering and feuding and backbiting (if not backstabbing), it becomes easy to forget the reasons we have for rejoicing. It is still true : “The Lord is near.”
Lord, grant us Your peace, restore our joy, and lift our worry from us, so that we can live in a way fitting for the nearness of Christ. Amen.
A challenge : Keep watch on what you say. If you catch yourself saying things to tear people down, think of something to say that might build them up, and say that instead.