Second, there is contentment with thankfulness and rejoicing. Paul wrote to the Philippians: "Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content" (4:11). Can we say that too? Paul was unjustly imprisoned. He was cut off from his beloved work and deprived of Christian fellowship. Even the comforts of life were denied him. He faced the possibility of death, yet he had learned to be content. Have we? Can we sing the words of the old hymn honestly, "Thou, O Lord, art all I want, more than all in thee I find"?
Philippians is one of the sunniest of all Paul's epistles. There is no murmuring, no fretting, no complaining, no chafing and no fussing. You cannot find a trace of these in Philippians.
Third, there is faith instead of worry. Paul was in prison when he wrote Philippians. But faith was present instead of worry. Faith and worry are not good companions at all. When one gets in, the other gets out. Where there is a living, active, vital faith, there should not be one trace of worry or one atom of anxiety.
I can almost hear a loud chorus saying, "It is utterly impossible to live without a trace of worry or without an atom of anxiety." Let me ask these questions: What does our worry ever produce? Where does it ever get us, except to make things worse? We know that if we were just plain sensible, we would stop worrying, even if we did not have such an admonition written in the Bible. Worry is one of the most senseless things in the world. Worry makes us absolutely unfit for the very thing we want to do, and yet all the time we worry because we fear we cannot do it. So we continue to worry over our problem and become progressively less fit to meet it.
Fourth, there is self-effacement instead of self-pity - refusing to think of ourselves, to pamper ourselves, to coddle ourselves.
Let us not pamper ourselves. Let's not wake up in the morning and say, "I'm so tired, I don't believe I can get up this morning." We will not feel one bit better for lolling around in our beds, thinking of how tired we are. The thing that puts real pep in us is to get out of bed and study the Bible!
We must have a standard with regard to circumstances. There is no satisfactory standard anywhere today except in Christ and in the Bible. There is no standard in the church. Yet if there ever was a time in the history of the church when we needed a standard, it is today. We will fail if we do not have a standard. Conditions around us are getting worse. Unless we have a standard that we hold to rigidly every day of our lives, we will be defeated.
The standard we find in God's Word in regard to circumstances is in Philippians: "In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus" (4:6, 7).
There are three "impossibles" in those verses: "In nothing be anxious," "in everything ... with thanksgiving," and the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts." God wrote those "impossibles," and He knew just what He was doing. Negatively stated, the words "in nothing be anxious" mean there should not be a shadow of fretting or anxiety or worry over anything. Does that hit any o us between the eyes? If so, be willing for the blow. it is God who said, "In nothing be anxious." Positively stated, it means there is to be complete and continuous thanksgiving at all times in all things. Then we shall possess "the peace of God, which passeth all understanding."
(continued with # 9)