Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 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. (Paul’s letter to the Philippians, chapter 4, verses 4-7)
It seems a little odd that right after Paul mentions the names of the prime combatants in the church conflict (with whom, of course, most everyone has taken sides) and asks other leaders to help them resolve it, that Paul would not stay more immediately with this topic. But in point of fact, he is on topic.
The enjoinder to rejoice in the Lord is tantamount to saying, “Rejoice in what God rejoices about,” which is the saving of souls who are in darkness by holding out the word of life in unity with one another. The gentleness that is to be evident to all is that gentleness of interaction with one another in the Body of Christ that views one another as more important than oneself, that is concerned not only for one’s own interests only but also for the interests of others.
And that kind of selflessness extends itself to unbelievers, also. They sense that the most important thing to you is not your personal agenda, your pet doctrines or behavioral distinctives, but the person in front of you — them. When that is the case, it is not the individual who is offensive but only the gospel itself. And that is what we want.
The flip side of this is freedom from anxiety. The Philippians had been anxious about Paul’s imprisonment because they felt the gospel was limited by his personal limitations. It was not, of course, as we have seen. Confidence in the gospel and in the Lord’s ability to have it make progress, frees us to make good decisions in love, not desperation. And that helps us stay in unity, as well.
When we hand over all our concerns to God in prayer and experience His incomparable peace guarding our hearts and minds, we are ready to be a part of the progress of the gospel. We are able to see each other not as enemies to our selfish ambitions but sisters and brothers who can stand firm in one spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel.
NOTHING is more important than the progress of the gospel. NOTHING!