In Philippians 4, Paul writes to a church that he holds very close to his heart. They were (apparently) the ONLY church that supported him (financially or otherwise) in the beginning as he set out to be a missionary for Jesus.
In addition to thanking them for their generosity, Paul spends the first half of chapter 4 talking to them about living in harmony with each other. Apparently, there was a disagreement in this church between two women who both loved Jesus but couldn’t get along. He pleads with them to settle it and come back to unity, and then he gives us all some tips on how we can live in harmony with others. He doesn’t tell us what to change in our interactions, but he tells us what to change within OURSELVES. Because let’s be honest, that’s usually where all of our problems start!
Let’s look at this advice within the context of parenting. Sometimes, it’s hard to live in harmony with our kids! Some days it feels downright impossible! But the answer isn’t in controlling others. The answer is in how we approach every situation in our life – our perspective.
Take a look at what Paul says:
Be cheerful with joyous celebration in every season of life. Let joy overflow, for you are united with the Anointed One! Let gentleness be seen in every relationship, for our Lord is ever near.
Don’t be pulled in different directions or worry about a thing. Be saturated in prayer throughout each day, offering your faith-filled requests before God with overflowing gratitude. Tell him every detail of your life, then God’s wonderful peace that transcends human understanding, will make the answers known to you through Jesus Christ. So keep your thoughts continually fixed on all that is authentic and real, beautiful and respectful, pure and holy, merciful and kind. And fasten your thoughts on every glorious work of God, praising him always. Follow the example of all that we have imparted to you and the God of peace will be with you in all things.Philippians 4:4-9, The Passion Translation (emphasis added)
It can be hard to be “cheerful and joyous” when our kids are throwing a tantrum or whining. And yet, those moments are still part of “every season of life.” It’s a struggle to want to be gentle in our relationships with our kids when they’re acting immature, but those are part of “every relationship” in our lives. They’re not excluded just because they’re our children.
But Paul gives us some ways that we can live like that, no matter what is happening in our life at the time (or what craziness our kids might be creating).
- Don’t worry (about anything)
- Be saturated in prayer all day
- Pray with gratitude
- Tell God every detail of our life
- Think continually about good things
- Praise God always
These are the ways we can have peace and joy, no matter the circumstance. When we do these things, the Holy Spirit of Jesus is with us, guides us and renews our thoughts. That is how we receive the peace that goes beyond our understanding. That’s a peace only Jesus can bring. And that is how we can manage to live in harmony with others.
Even our kids.