Life-Study of Philippiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In this message and in the message following we shall consider many of the details and fine points regarding a life full of forbearance but without anxiety. In particular we shall consider the way to fulfill Paul’s word in 4:6, “In nothing be anxious.”
We have pointed out repeatedly that the subject of the book of Philippians is the experience of Christ. In the first three chapters of this Epistle, the standard of Paul’s writing is very high. However, in chapter four, the concluding portion of this book, Paul seems to descend to a lower level in emphasizing forbearance and anxiety.
More than fifty years ago, I was troubled by Philippians 4. I appreciated Paul’s words in the first three chapters. In chapter one we see that we should magnify Christ by living Him; in chapter two, that we should take Christ as the pattern of the Christian life; and in chapter three, that Christ is far superior to all things of religion and culture and that we must count all things loss in order to pursue Him and gain Him. Then in chapter four Paul suddenly talks about forbearance and anxiety. I realized that forbearance was a virtue, but in my opinion Paul’s word about forbearance could not compare with what he had written in the three previous chapters. Furthermore, I was troubled by the fact that Paul emphasized anxiety. But in recent years the light on the issue of forbearance versus anxiety has gradually become brighter and brighter. Now I have a deep appreciation for Paul’s words, “Let your forbearance be known to all men” (v. 5) and, “In nothing be anxious” (v. 6).
Anxiety is the totality of the natural human life. Day by day and even hour by hour, the common human life is filled with anxiety. Every normal human being is anxious. The more sober you are in mind, the more anxious you will be. If you are a person who is thoughtful and careful, you will have a great deal of anxiety. Sensitive people are especially bothered by anxiety. Those who are unusually dull or insensitive may not have much anxiety, but those who are sensitive usually have many anxieties.
Just as anxiety is the totality of common human life, so forbearance is the totality of the proper Christian life. Hence, the words anxiety and forbearance represent two kinds of lives. Among human beings there are only two kinds of lives: the human life and the Christian life. Human life is a life of anxiety, whereas the Christian life is a life of forbearance. If we see this contrast, we shall realize that it is a matter of great importance for Paul to emphasize forbearance and anxiety in chapter four of Philippians. He emphasizes forbearance and anxiety because they represent two different kinds of lives. Every human being is subject to anxiety. But if we are a Christian according to the divine standard, we shall have a life full of forbearance and without anxiety. The first point I would emphasize in this message is that forbearance and anxiety represent two kinds of lives.
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