Years of sacrificial servant-hood ministry had brought successes and disappointments. Now he found himself in an all too familiar place. Paul writes: I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus, for it is only right for me to think this way about you, because I have you in my heart, since both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you are all partakers of grace with me… Philippians 1:6-7
Paul a “partaker of grace” was sitting inside of a prison cell with an unknown future. Let us not pass by this point too quickly, the cells of that day were quite different from our cells of today. The cells were often in the worst parts of the town and were rat and disease infested dark and damp, filthy places. There was no provision for the prisoners except that which was provided from the outside by family or friends. Yet in this state Paul proclaims that his heart resides with his friends in Phillippi.
One of the underlying purposes for his letter was to thank his friends for providing not only the resources to see him through the ordeal but individuals to minister to him as well. To this point Paul says: For I have no one else (other than Timothy) of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare. Philippians 2:20
The picture would look bleak to most ordinary people. Here he sat, after years of effective and sacrificial ministry, locked in ugliness with only one person he could trust and depend upon and the only news heard is the squabbling and the self interest within the church.
Yet his thoughts were elsewhere: I thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger and minister to me; because he was longing for you all and was distressed because you heard that he was sick. V.25&26
How is it that one in such a desperate position has only the concern for the welfare of others who appear to be less desperate?
Paul reveals to us the key to the kingdom of peace and joy: Finally, brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same thing again is no trouble to me and is a safeguard to you. 3:1
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say rejoice! v.4
Is the point made yet? Over and over again it is worth proclaiming. Rejoicing is the pathway out of our troubles.
Let your forbearing spirit be known to all men; the Lord is near!
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be know by God.
Prayer + supplication + thanksgiving = and the peace of God which surpasses all comprehension shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus! V5-7
The conclusion: Finally, brethren, whatever is TRUE, whatever is HONORABLE, whatever is RIGHT, whatever is PURE, whatever is LOVLY, whatever is of GOOD REPUTE, if there is anything WORTH OF PRAISE, let you mind dwell on these things. V.8
Is it time we reconsidered some of the things that we allow to be put before our eyes and minds? Not everything that is harmful to our spiritual health is evil or even just bad. Some things are acceptable for most people but work against our spirits.
Consider the doors that you open to your mind!