Guidelines for Living
The Word of God gives us guidelines or rules so we can live a life that is pleasing unto God. Lots of them are written in other Epistles as inspired by the Holy Spirit. We will discuss some of them here. One rule is to rejoice in the Lord as we have taken last week. We will take a look at the others as we go on to the end of this beautiful letter of Paul to the Church.
I. Be Moderate (Phil. 4: 5 a)
A. According to my research the Greek equivalent of this word is very hard to translate into English. KJV translators translated it into “moderate”. Some experts says it means “forbearance”, yieldingness, others says it means “gentleness”, to another they say its “sweet reasonableness to others”, considerateness, patience. It is an interesting fact that the original word is unknown in classical Greek.
B. I honestly think they are all correct. Being moderate is Christ like consideration for others for their judgments, people who may be equally sincere and devoted when it comes to correctness of doctrines, principles, or practices that one believes he has learned from the Word of God.
C. Some Christian misuses the word moderation so they can indulge in sin. They say “it’s alright for Christians to drink moderately, smoke moderately, dance moderately, and all the rest. But this is not what it means. It is the opposite of yourself will, your wanting your way all the time, your stubbornness.
D. Sometimes in our zeal to witness and to convince non-believers, we unfortunately use —condemnation, criticism, nagging, fits of temper. We think we’re doing right, but our harsh, self-righteous treatment is more than they can bear and the more we turn them away.
In soul winning or in dealing with people who are having different point of view, belief, interpretation, practice, we should be gentle and patient. There is no point in winning an argument but losing the soul of an individual. (2 Tim. 2:24). In Jas. 3:17 gentleness is a virtue that is related to wisdom which comes from God. Why we need to be moderate or gentle? Because the Lord is at hand. He is coming soon, may be sooner than you think, and he is also very near us. The greatest motivation or encouragement for holy living is the imminent return of the Lord Jesus Christ to earth.
A poet wrote: “Patience is a virtue, possess it if you can. Found seldom in a woman, never in a man.”
II. Be Prayerful (Phil. 4:6)
A. Our verse tells “be careful for nothing” but in the Greek it means “be anxious for nothing”. Anxiety is a form of fear and it is a form of sin because it demonstrates lack of confidence in the power of God to deal with our life needs and problems. God is in total control in our life and we need not worry. (1 Pet. 5:7).
B. Anxiety or worry is pointless because it never changes anything. However, trust in God’s faithfulness changes us. It changes our outlook in life. The issue will no longer be our capability but God’s capability.
C. “But” in contrast or the remedy for worry and anxiety is Prayer. Pray about it. Everything includes all things. Little things, big things, medium things. Nothing is too big to pray about or nothing is too small. The remedy is prayer. There is nothing in this life that we face which we cannot bring to God in prayer. Prayer is the means of putting into God’s hands our needs.
D. The word prayer means to present our desires to the Lord. It shows out faith and total dependence on Him. We ask things so He can give it to us.
E. Supplication means intercession, requests, petitions and desires. Supplication moves our request from general to specific. Praying for all the sick in the church is general but praying for the success in the surgery of one of our sister in her breast to stop cancer is specific. Prayer and supplication are written together in several passages like Eph. 6:18, 2 Tim. 2:1-3, Heb. 5:7.
F. Thanksgiving. We thank God for the privilege of prayer and answered prayer. It’s one way of appreciating what the Lord hath done for us before and after. It is an act of faith. Implies our gratitude and submission to God’s will. When we are convinced that all things will work together for good, then we can come to rest knowing that the will of God is the best for us no matter what the outcome of His response to our petition.
G. Though it is clear from Scripture that God always answers our prayers, there are also some guidelines for effective praying. Certain practices or attitudes can hinder your prayers and, in such cases, God will not respond to them. The passages below help us understand that we must be in a right relationship with God and with others in order for our prayers to be effectively heard by God.
1. Harboring unconfessed sin will put a barrier between you and God (Ps. 66:18).
2. God hears the prayers of those who obey His commands (1 Jn. 3:22-23).
3. God will not hear prayers that have wrong or selfish motives (Jas. 4:3).
4. We are instructed to pray according to His will, not according to ours (1 Jn. 5:14-15).
5. When we pray, we are to ask in faith. Unbelief is a barrier to answered prayer (Mark 11:22-24).
6. An ongoing abiding life in Christ (having regular fellowship with Him) will allow your prayers to be heard. When fellowship is broken, so is communication with God (John 15:7).
7. Sometimes we don’t have answered prayers because we do not ask. We are to pursue appropriate requests regularly and bring them to God (Luke 11:9).
8. Prayer in the Spirit (that is, under the control of the Holy Spirit) is also a prerequisite. This verse instructs us that we must also persevere in our praying. Prayers offered in the flesh will not be heard by God (Eph. 6:18).
9. If you are unable to forgive someone for something that person has done to you, then God says He will not forgive you. Restored and right relationships are essential for open communication with God (Mark 11:25).
10. We are to pray with thankful hearts. Those of us who come before God without a spirit of thankfulness will find our prayers are not heard (Phil. 4:6)
Illustration: Prayer Path
In one region of Africa, the first converts to Christianity were very diligent about praying. In fact, the believers each had their own special place outside the village where they went to pray in solitude. The villagers reached these “prayer rooms” by using their own private footpaths through the brush. When grass began to grow over one of these trails, it was evident that the person to whom it belonged was not praying very much.
Because these new Christians were concerned for each other’s spiritual welfare, a unique custom sprang up. Whenever anyone noticed an overgrown “Prayer path,” he or she would go to the person and lovingly warn, “Friend, there’s grass on your path!”
III. Result: Peace
A. The peace which God gives. The peace here particularly referred to is that which is felt when we have no anxious care about the supply of our wants, and when we go confidently and commit everything into the hands of God. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee,” Isa 26:3. John 14:27.
B. It is beyond comprehension, beyond human ability to reason. It is based on the relationship we have with God through Christ.
C. The deepest want of man is not a desire for happiness, but a craving for peace; not a wish for the gratification of every desire, but a craving for the repose of acquiescence in the will of God: and it is this which Christianity promises. Christianity does not promise happiness, but it does promise peace.
Illustration 2: What Is True Peace
Peace that passes our comprehension is not a quality of life which excludes us from the stresses and strains of human society. It is not a sheltered withdrawal from the wrongs that rack our world. Nor is it a cloistered existence in which we are cut off from the calamities and conflicts of our generation.
The place of peace to which God our Father calls us is that intimate inner acquaintance with Himself whereby we come to know so assuredly: “O Father, You are here! And all is well!”
Encyclopedia of 15,000 Illustrations: Signs of the Times.
Rejoicing always, being moderate, and prayerful are just some of the rules for or guidelines for living. The important thing is, if the follow these three, you will have peace beyond understanding which you can only have and experience if you are in Christ. Trust Him now; receive Him as your personal saviour.