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.
The final chapter of Philippians is largely personal in nature, and I like to think of it as taking place at a certain stop on a longer journey; Paul is giving some last instructions before heading off, and we are getting set to head off on a different road. In a way, that’s what was really happening at the time. Paul was going into the final stretch before heading home to glory, but the Philippians still had a long trail ahead before they would cross the river.
These verses comprise another very memorable bit of advice from Paul, one of his last to Philippi, and they are as full of significance today as they were almost 2,000 years ago. As we head off in our journey, Paul reminds us to rejoice in the Lord always.
For emphasis, he repeats his admonition; I can only imagine how that struck the Philippians, aware as they were of Paul’s situation. If Paul can rejoice in his situation, how can we not rejoice in ours? Then this man who was awaiting the judgment of Caesar that would send him to the executioner’s block tells the Philippians to be sure that their gentleness is evident to all; amazing.
He reminds us that the Lord is near, so we shouldn’t be anxious about anything, and sends us right into His presence as he encourages us to be in prayer. We are to present our prayers and petitions to God with thanksgiving, and the peace of God that “transcends all understanding” will guard our hearts and minds. I just can’t help but think that this would have made a big impression to the Philippians, as it has to so many ever since.
I would like to suggest that we all spend a little time reflecting on these words while remembering the circumstances that Paul found himself in when he penned them, and to ask our Lord to show us where He wants us to go next on our journey through this life.