Paul’s Prescription for Peace – A sermon on Philippians 4:2-7 by Rev. Colin Pretorius
The past year has just rocketed by, hasn’t it! This time last year two girls in our congregation had not yet started their final year at school and now they’re thinking about life after school. Birthdays have come and gone just as quickly. And the older we get, the quicker each year seems to rush by and we stand yet again at the start of a new year. And often when we come to this time of the year, we think of the things that have happened in the past year and we wonder what will happen in the year ahead. We take stock of where we are at in our lives. A few years ago, in the lead-up to the last week of the year, someone said to me that the year that was drawing to an end had been a bad one but that the next year was going to be even worse! There was a sense of hopelessness in that person’s comments. I trust that that’s not where you are at this morning, that you’re not looking at the year ahead with a measure of despair. I trust that knowing that you are a child of God will uplift you, that it will generate in your heart a joyful and heartfelt sense of optimism.
Now of course we shouldn’t look at the year ahead with an unrealistic expectation. Of course not everything will be exactly the way we want them to be. People will disappoint us. There will be difficulties in all of our lives – that’s part and parcel of living in a fallen world. We know that we will lose loved ones or friends to death. More and more we will face opposition because of what we believe – but that too is part and parcel of our life as followers of Christ. But if we listen to what Scripture tells us, and especially if we listen to what the passage which we’ve just read tells us, we can take these things in our stride, for there is hope! God is near, and we have great cause to rejoice!
In this passage Paul gives the Philippians instructions that we would do well to keep in mind as we set off on the journey of 2023 and beyond. Some of you may watch the show Dr Phil from time to time, but this morning we’re going to tune in to a doctor with vastly superior counselling skills. We’re going to listen to what medicine Dr Paul prescribes to the Philippian church. We’ll look first at what he says about handling conflict, then at his prescription for anxiety and lastly we’ll turn to the effect of his prescribed treatment.
- The prescription for handling conflict (v2-3);
- The prescription for anxiety (v4-6); and
- The effect of the prescribed treatment (v7).