Day 4 | Philippians 4:9 & 3:1-10 | Attack of the Joy-Killers
This devotional works best as an audio experience. Hit the play button now, and read along if you like. All verses quoted from the NIV.
Hello Through the Word. Welcome back to Bible Basics Explained. This one is all about anxiety.
Today everything depends on you. You’ve gotta come through! Your family needs you. Your nation needs you. God Almighty is depending on you to save the day!
Actually… no, He’s not. But sometimes you kinda feel that way. And sometimes some well-meaning Christians are the ones making you feel that way.
Paul the Apostle was quite familiar with that feeling. He spent many years of his life trying to be godly - trying to be good enough for God and good enough for all other religious people watching his life. And when people watch you like that - set expectations on you - well, it’s enough to make you feel anxious.
So what do we do? We’re gonna back up today to add a little more context to our passage in Philippians 4. We’ve covered a lot of good stuff already, so let’s do a quick review before we dig in. We started in verse 4 with a call to rejoice. But don’t forget - our joy is not just empty smiles. It is grounded and rooted. We rejoice in the Lord.
Next, we are not harsh but gentle, because the Lord is near.
And then, knowing that He is near, be anxious for nothing. Instead, talk to Him. Pray. Ask for what you need, thank Him for caring, and trust Him. He is good. Let His peace that passes understanding rule over your heart and protect it.
And then, for your thought life. Think about good things.
To help you with that, try reading the Bible. In fact, start with this book. Philippians is a fantastic book, and all of this is even better in full context. We’ll get a little of that today, but if you like this, you’ll love the whole book.
Now a little reminder as we dig in. Please remember that this is not a replacement for therapy or medicine. I’m not a psychiatrist. Anxiety disorder is quite real, and if you struggle with mental health issues, please speak with a good doctor. The Bible supports the work of doctors and the use of medications when appropriate. Of course, use wisdom always, and keep the directions of the Bible as a guide.
And speaking of the Bible, let’s get back to it. We pick up in Philippians 4:9.
“Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you" (Philippians 4:9).
So. verse 8 said to think, now verse 9 says to do. Time to put your faith into practice! As you walk it out, you will find that the God of Peace is with you.
Good advice doesn’t work if you don’t act on it. But we have to be careful here. That sort of feels like it’s all on you. You have to do the work. You put it into practice.
And that’s true, but the order here is important. Remember this is chapter 4. We skipped ahead. And to get this right, we need to go back a chapter to see the full context. So let’s turn back to chapter 3.
Chapter 3 begins with that beautiful call again:
"Rejoice in the Lord" (Philippians 3:1).
But then in verse 2:
"Watch out for those dogs, those evildoers, those mutilators of the flesh." (Philippians 3:2).
Now when Paul says watch out for dogs, he’s not talking about my little Beagle-Terrier mix Luigi. Here, Paul is speaking of rabid dogs - with sharp fangs and a vicious disease that’s ready to infect. The disease is self-righteousness.
Righteousness means doing the right thing and standing justly before God. Self-righteousness, then, means making myself right by my works, my strength, my self.
The problem with self-righteousness is that it puts all the weight on you to be good. And quite frankly, you’re not good enough and you’re not strong enough. Neither am I. "You think you can do these things, but you can’t Nemo"!
Paul explains that he tried; he tried hard. He had committed his whole life to "trying" to be a perfect and godly Jew. Paul tells his story and all the work he did to be perfect before he met Jesus. But in verse 7:
“But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ" (Philippians 3:7).
Paul gave it all up to gain Jesus. This is the "great trade-in." Jesus calls out to all those who are weary and heavy-laden to take His yoke upon them. It is light. Do you know why it’s light? Not because the weight is less, but because He is carrying it!
So Paul says these are the options: take up all your own burdens and carry them in your strength, or trade them in and take up His burden, and Jesus will carry it as you walk with Him.
Paul took that trade. He let go of self-righteousness and, in verse 8, traded it in to know Christ Jesus as Lord. He says:
“…for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.” (Philippians 3:8-9).
That is the heart of the gospel. Jesus died - gave his life on a cross - to pay the full price for our sins. He carried our burdens of guilt and shame, and He nailed them to the cross. He took them down to death and buried them. And when He rose again, He pronounced victory, and in Him we are born again - no longer a slave to sin and no longer burdened with the pressure of perfection. You don’t have to impress anyone. You don’t have to live up to their expectations. God loves you now, just as you are. And that is a reason to rejoice in the Lord!
Read Philippians 3 today, and we will be back to finish out chapter 4 and find the secret of contentment tomorrow.
Next: Read Philippians 4:9 & 3:1-10
For Thought & Discussion: