By George H. Alquist Jr.
"Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand." Philippians 4:5
We all want the peace of God as we serve Him. In Philippians 4:7 we read, "And the peace of God which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." If we are going to serve the Lord successfully we must have our hearts and minds at peace. So often we like to quote Philippians 4:7 without considering its context. The peace spoken of in verse 7 is predicated upon the believer carrying out verses 5 and 6. Why is it that many of God's servants do not experience peace? Why is it that so often God's servants do break down and quit? The answer is that they want to claim the promises without fulfilling the conditions to the promises. I am going to share five aspects of securing and experiencing God's peace.
The word moderation sums up our first point. The Greek word means "unto reasonableness". Born again Christians ought to be reasonable in their approach to life and toward people. Another synonym for moderation is gentle. The two words together give us the "gentle, moderate approach to life manifested as the result of self-restraint". The idea is that the gentle, moderate approach to life is the result of living a life characterized by self-restraint. Self-restraint involves saying no to anger, pride, jealousy, gossip, slander, a sharp tongue, worldly pursuits, and sin in general. We must be careful not to allow ourselves to be persuaded that the word moderation somehow conveys the idea that all activities are right and good in "moderation". There are some things that require not merely moderation but abstinence. Some of the areas requiring abstinence for the servant of God would include alcohol, illicit drug usage, tobacco (in all forms), all sexual involvement outside the bounds of marriage, and others as outlined in the Word of God. Moderation, then, might be called balance.
We must also keep in mind that even good things that are not sinful may become so if they become controlling, consuming, or compelling in our lives. We need to exercise self-restraint even in areas of life that are proper yet may begin to receive unreasonable amounts of time, thought, or effort. A balanced life is a must for us to acceptably serve the Lord and to be fit for the Master's use. I have seen preachers become obsessed with things like hunting, fishing, golf, and hobbies of all kinds to the point where their usefulness for God is jeopardized or even destroyed. God wants us to enjoy life within a framework of balance.
Our second point is consideration. In verse six we find the word careful. The Greek word expresses the idea of anxiety, worry, and fretfulness. Forethought and genuine concern are not condemned but rather anxious distracting care is condemned. We, can tell when our concern has become anxiety and therefore sin when: 1. Care is excessive and inconsistent with peace and quietness. 2. Care induces loss of temper 3. Care makes one distrustful of Providence. 4. Care hurries us into an improper course of action or conduct. Worry and anxiety are truly useless because they rob the worrier of peace, the ability to think clearly with spiritual discernment, and in the end never really change anything anyway. Guy H. King once said that we should, "be careful nothing, pray about everything and thankful for anything". This is good advice.
Instead of worrying, pray! Pray about everything large and small. In verse 6 the word prayer is the Greek word proseuche, which means prayer in general. This prayer is devotional in nature and has the element of worship. The word for supplication is deesis, which describes special petitions of urgency and particularity. Notice that our prayer is to be "made known unto God". Be careful of glorified begging. Glorified begging takes place when we let our requests and needs made known unto those whom we know have the means of meeting them. Doing this we piously proclaim that God met our needs when in reality man did. Notice also that we are to make our requests made known unto God with thanksgiving. Thanksgiving speaks of God's dependability. Prayer and supplication show our dependence while thanksgiving shows God's dependability. So instead of being careful about things, next time take time to consider God and pray!
Our third observation is preservation. Verse 7 is indeed the result of verses 5 and 6. Verses 5 and 6 use action words like let and be. The words let and be describe our actions. The result of our actions is God's action described in verse 7. God has promised to do His part when we have done ours. God's part is that He will keep (guard) our hearts (center of emotions and feelings) and minds (center of imagination and thoughts) by His grace. What then? God will preserve our thoughts and emotions by His peace in such a way that defies understand in a way which only He can do.
Verse 8 tells us to be involved in contemplation. The phrase "think on these things" speaks of contemplation. Dwelling upon our problems affects our hearts and minds. We can become depressed, discouraged, and disillusioned when we allow ourselves to think on our problems. Just so when we dwell on things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and praiseworthy our emotions and actions will likewise be affected for good. If anyone has a reason for having a positive outlook toward life it should be the born-again Christian. We should be optimists because God is for us. He wants you and I to succeed. We should be careful to control our thinking. II Corinthians 10:5 says, "Casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ." In other words, "think on these things." Learn to control your thoughts instead of letting your thoughts control you. You decide which thoughts will be allowed to stay and which ones must go.
Our last point of consideration is implementation. It has been said that, "it is one thing to ponder, admire, and applaud morality: it is another to practice it." Again it has been said that, "two vital elements of true Christianity are communion with God and cultivation of practical holiness." It is one thing to see and hear and another thing to do. The Bible says in James 1:22, "But, be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves." Implementation is crucial. Far too many read about exercising but never get around to exercising. Far too many read about serving the Lord and being "Fit for the Master's use" but never do anything about it. James 1:25 tells us that it is the "doer" that is blessed in his deed. In Philippians 4:9 we find that it is the "doer" that finds that the God of peace will be with him. Indeed this is marvelous, that the God of peace will be with us to enable us to continue to be "doers". Matthew 28:20 says, "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." What a wonderful promise!
All of this is involved in "moderation" or a balanced Christian life. The Almighty, Ever-living, All-knowing, Everywhere Present, Never Changing One will be with you and enable you and keep you and bless you so that you can be a profitable servant. Praise the Lord! Be a Doer not a Dider.