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 minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things. Whatever you have learned from me, or seen in me - put into practice. And the peace of God will be with you.
I've heard sermons and read thoughts on lots of different things in this passage before. As I was reading and reflecting on these verses recently, I noticed something I don't remember noticing before. I love how God highlights things we've seen often in His Word before at the time we're in a place for that truth. It was there all along, but now is when we notice it.
These verses contain two promises. One is said only once, but the second is repeated twice:
- The Lord is near (vs. 5)
- The peace of God will guard your hearts and minds (vs. 7)
- The peace of God will be with you (vs. 9)
We're told that God is near and that we can experience His peace. We don't have to go looking for God because He is near. We just have to look up from our circumstances and look at Him. We don't have to search for an elusive peace, when we realize God is near because we've shifted our gaze, we will experience God's peace.
As I saw this, I realized it changed my perspective on everything else in this passage. All the words about not being anxious about anything and thinking about things are no longer a means to trying to find God and an elusive peace. They become a way to live because I'm living with a God Who is near and has given me His peace.
We can rejoice because God is near and His peace guards our hearts and minds.
We can let our gentleness be evident to all because God is near and His peace guards our hearts and minds.
We have no need to be anxious about anything because God is near and He gives us His peace to guard our hearts and minds.
We can bring our requests to God and trust His answers because God is near and His peace guards our hearts and minds.
We can live with thanksgiving because God is near and His peace guards our hearts and minds.
We can think about what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy because God is near and His peace guards our hearts and minds.