Philippians 4 for the Twenty-first Century

Philippians 4 for the Twenty-first Century

There was a night last month when I was brimming with silent anger.

You know know what I mean?  Have you ever felt the anger that makes you ball up your socks and throw them at the floor (socks being the object of choice because they make the least noise), or the anger that makes you have imaginary arguments in your head without saying a word aloud?  Have you experienced the anger that makes you take a shower just so that if you cry, you can blame the puffy eyes on misplaced shampoo?

I was feeling that type of anger, and it was rooted in extreme discontentment.

I have this habit that started when I was a sophomore in college.  I was required to memorize Philippians 4:4-13 for my speech class, and I discovered that in the shower, I could quote the passage for at least 10 minutes without interruption.  Occasionally, I still quote that passage while I lather, rinse, and repeat.

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For some reason, as I finished up an internal argument and tried to keep the shampoo from my eyes on that night on silent anger, I began to quote Philippians 4.  I said the words aloud and considered the meaning behind Paul’s letter.  It was the exact message that I needed to hear.  Philippians 4 is a message of peace, temperance, and contentment.  I can’t speak for Paul, but if I had to translate the book of Philippians into twenty-first century English (preaching to myself, of course), I would say this:

“Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again, just to reinforce it: REJOICE!!

Be so moderate, so gentle, so levelheaded that everyone else notices it.  You can be temperate because the Lord is here! He is active!  So do not be anxious about anything.  Instead, pray about everything and always give thanks.  When you do, God’s peace, which surpasses human understanding, will comfort your heart and mind.

Now, dear readers, think about the things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely and of good report.  If anything is virtuous or praiseworthy, focus on those things.  Remember what I have taught you and the life that I lived before you.  Put those lessons into practice, and the God of peace will be with you.

I was exceedingly glad–I rejoiced in the Lord–when you revived your care for me.  Not that you had quit caring for me, but you lacked the opportunity to show that care.  Now you have the opportunity.  Do not think that I am talking about a physical need that I now have.  No, I have learned the secret of being content in every situation.  I know how to be poor or rich, how to be full or hungry, how to have plenty, and how to do without.  I can be content in any situation because the Lord strengthens me.”

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