by Philip Layton
The letter ends with exhortations, thanks and final greetings
- How is it possible to ‘rejoice in the Lord always’ (v 4)?
- What is the link between ‘anxious’ (v 6) and ‘peace’ (v 7)?
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Going Deeper From 'Words of Life'
The fruit of the Spirit is joy. The Hebrew of the Old Testament and the Greek of the New Testament use different words to express joy. When David returned home after slaying Goliath he got a hero’s welcome – women ‘singing and dancing, with joyful songs’ (1 Samuel 18:6). The word used for joyful here is simcha, which refers to rejoicing. Another word for joy used in Acts is masos, which means jumping. Rinnah is yet another word conveying the thought of shouting for joy.
A further word used for joy is gil, which implies moving around in circles. This one seemed strange to me, until I thought of our family ‘dance parties.’ My eldest son, Joel, started these parties with his little nephews (my grandsons). He turns up the music then says: ‘Everyone dance!’ The three boys, between one and two years old, beam with joy as they dance their little hearts out – dancing in little circles. You’d think they’d get so dizzy! But they’re just so filled with joy – sheer abandonment.
Joy is to be part of our lives. If it’s missing, something is wrong. As Beethoven shared with the world in his ‘Ninth Symphony’ his song of joy, we too can sing: ‘Joyful, joyful, we adore thee!’
Yes, joy. But also, the fruit of the Spirit is peace:
May the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times (2 Thessalonians 3:16).
Western travellers in the Middle East are greeted by the word salaam or shalom. Both words mean ‘peace.’ Yet often in that area of the world there’s gunfire and bombing. Augustine of Hippo, hundreds of years ago, said peace was the tranquillity of order. Even when there’s grief, tragedy, pain, suffering, there can be a deep inner peace which only Christ can bring.
We can be agents of peace, as God continues to speak in and through us. Where there’s strife, we can bring peace; where there’s conflict, creating a peaceful atmosphere. Perfect peace.
Yes, joy and peace with God. Also joy and peace expressed in our day-to-day lives as we mingle and interact with one another.
Beverly IvanyTags: Philippians