Philippians 4:4-13 – 4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 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. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. 10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all things through him who gives me strength.
I was thinking about this well-referenced passage, and God showed me it is like a set of stairs.
One (baby) step leads to the next, until you are truly the new faithful man He has promised in 2 Corinthians 5:17.
So what are the steps?
A new attitude. Verses 4-5a. An attitude of rejoicing and gentleness.
A new perspective. Verse 5b-6a. Knowing God is with you, so you are never anxious.
A new lifestyle. Verse 6b. Being prayerful and thankful about all things.
A new hope. Verse 7, 9b. Being filled with God’s peace.
A new thought process. Verse 8. Focusing your thoughts on good, God-filled things.
A new habit. Verse 9a. Doing what you know is right and have been taught.
A new focus. Verse 10. Caring about people and wanting to help (give).
A solid foundation. Verses 11-12. Being content with the blessings (supply) God has given you.
A new life. Verse 13. Being fully confident in God.
From a new attitude to a new life. It sounds easy, right? If only we could jump from start to finish with one leap or one confession. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to jump from “Hi, God. Nice to meet You” immediately to “I can do all this through Him who gives me strength”?
But it’s a adventure of many steps, many lessons, many mistakes, and many retries – as Paul points to in verse 11 (“for I have learned”). It won’t always come easily or quickly. It won’t always go the way we want. It won’t always be a pleasant choice.
Because it’s a process. 2 Corinthians 3:18 reminds us that we are “transformed into the same image [of Christ] from glory to glory”. Not from glory to perfection (maturity, completion), but from glory to glory. From lesson to lesson. From revelation to revelation. From truth to truth. From change to change. From freedom to freedom. From habit to habit. Because it is a process that is never instantaneous.
That’s why they call it a faith journey. We walk, we detour, we turn around, we backtrack, we get lost, we stumble, we go the wrong way, and we eventually find our way. But along the way God walks with us, guiding us in the right direction and hoping we’ll stick with Him.
Each change we make is progress. Each step we take toward God is a step toward something bigger and better than we are. Each step is another step forward in loving how He loves, forgiving as He forgives, and seeing how He sees. Each step is another step away from our fleshly, self-centered desires (Galatians 5:19-21) to replace them with His godly fruit of generosity and compassion (Galatians 5:22-23). Each step grows our faith to the place of utmost confidence in Him, no matter what is happening to, in, and around us.
So are you willing to take the first (or next) step? Are you willing to trust Him more than you currently do?
It starts with you reaching out to Him right where you are and giving Him all you are – your fears, your faith, your doubts, your belief, your skepticism, your confidence, your shame, your joy, your past, your future, your laughter, your tears, your hesitation, your assurance, your hopelessness, your hope.
In exchange, He gives you the ability to walk confidently with Him with hope because you realize He is all about new. Each step of new helps you become a person of great faith. You boldly declare that God is taking care of you and you are choosing His peace. You are thankful for what you have and trust Him to provide what you need (19). You become a person who looks out to help others instead of being focused on self. And your faith in Him cannot be shaken (1).
So be bold and take a step. Start – or continue – your journey to a new you.
Marie Fremin. 4/6/15, 5/20/15, 12/20/15