How To Cultivate This Relational Virtue
Here in part two is the first of three ways from the context of that passage for developing this otherwise unnatural disposition, especially when we are wronged.
We don’t often associate the rather familiar verses of Phil. 4:4-8 with negotiating conflict and preserving oneness in our dealings with others. But the context in vv. 2-3 makes this connection very plain.
Paul calls out publically two godly women struggling to get along. He even enlists the aid of a mediator–“true companion”–to help resolve whatever dispute left the ladies at odds.
Let this hit you right between the eyes. That real church-life struggle sets the stage for the exhortations which follow.
Here is step one from these familiar verses for cultivating a sweet reasonableness known to everyone–especially in your church when conflict threatens to disrupt unity.
One, pursue your joy in God (v. 4). Rejoice in the Lord. He doesn’t want us to miss the point, so he repeats himself. Again, I will say rejoice. The apostle likes this theme. He hit them with it once before in Phil. 3:1.
I’m not sure we can hear this often enough. Our contentment ought not depend on how well relationships work out. No matter how hard we try, things can get dicey with others. When it does, the way to sweet reasonableness lies in a Godward orientation.
Ken Sande puts this so well in The Peacemaker:
Salvation through the gospel, the motivation and power to change, sound guidance through God’s Word and Spirit, the resources of the body of Christ, opportunities that come through a sovereign God–all these blessings are available when you are “in the Lord.” But remember, Satan does not want you to think like this; he wants to keep you worried about your conflict, wrapped up in yourself, and looking everywhere except at God. Resist him! Go to the Lord repeatedly in prayer and worship, and delight in his goodness to you. You will be surprised at the freedom and power that such rejoicing brings (85).
This is precisely why our church offers once a year a class on the subject of spiritual disciplines. Joy in God grows as the fruit of our gospel-driven pursuit of God through the means of grace with which He has blessed us.
How’s your joy in God quotient?
There’s little hope of sweet reasonableness known to all without it.
Stay tuned for part three!