"Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved." Philippians 4:1
As we embark on our Peace of Mind Series through Philippians 4, we see the first clearly stated in verse one: "so stand fast in the Lord". Before you can expect God's peace to dwell within your heart, you must first resolve to dwell with God.
What is mankind's natural reaction when trouble invades our expectations? We worry. We doubt. We get angry with God and others. We complain. Sometimes, we permit excessive and frequent pain to encourage us to throw in the towel altogether.
There may be an unpleasant diagnosis. There may be that loved one's betrayal. There may be that job loss. From the moment of Adam's transgression, sin and death flooded this world with the suffering she now bears; and still Paul tells us under God's inspiration that we are to "stand fast in the Lord".
Did he not know that the Philippians were facing poverty? Did he not know that the cost of being a Christian was increasing in severity? He did. And he understood. Writing from his prison cell, he commands them under God's direction to resolve to stand - don't give up!
This command is reinforced by the first word of the verse, "therefore", which references thoughts from chapter three. When you're ready to throw in the towel, when peace seems impossible, you must remember that this is not the end.
Philippians 3:13 "Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before."
Whatever the trial we face today, it will not be with us when we stand before Christ. The day will come when Jesus shall establish His reign forever upon the earth. Pain and suffering will be no more. To give up now is to miss out on hope for the future. When we consider all that God has in store for those who love Him and serve Him, the dark times are but light afflictions. The tears of agony you may shed today will be tears of joy in heaven.
A second reason we must resolve to stand is because judgment is coming. Philippians 3:14 says, "I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." Though the apostle himself was in prison, he did not dare allow his present circumstances to detract him from his coming reward. All of us will stand before the Lord Jesus and give an account of what we did for Him.
A third reason for our steadfastness is found in verse fifteen: "Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample." You must stand fast in the Lord because you set an example.
We like to think we are not influenced by the choices other people make, but that is unfortunately not how human nature works. We are influenced, and greatly so. When you choose to stay standing, a weaker brother or sister in Christ may see your "ensample", and be encouraged to do the same. Children learn by watching others. So do God's children.
So how does this relate to peace? When you give up on living for God, you forfeit your peace. The natural reaction for many is to give up on spiritual things when they start to become costly. My friend, that is the opposite of how God expects us to react. Peace - that virtue whereby we are right with God, right with others, and right with ourselves - cannot exist apart from the Lord Jesus. He is the Prince of Peace.
Though the storms overwhelm you, keep sailing. Jesus can calm the storm. If the hill seems to high and strenuous, keep climbing. Faith moves mountains. If the foes seem too powerful, keep fighting. You're on the winning side. The Philippians 4 journey to peace begins with a resolution between you and God: no matter what, I will still do right. I will still stand.