Life-Study of Philippiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
We have repeatedly emphasized that the book of Philippians is a book on the experience of Christ. To experience Christ we need to live Him that we may magnify Him (1:20-21). Then we need to take Him as our pattern and pursue Him as our goal. In our Christian life we should have the unique mind—the mind to pursue Christ and gain Him. After covering these aspects of the experience of Christ, Paul, somewhat to our surprise, speaks in chapter four of forbearance and anxiety. On the positive side, we need forbearance; on the negative side, we should not have any anxiety.
Why at the conclusion of such a profound book on the experience of Christ does Paul mention forbearance and anxiety? Apparently there is no connection between the matters covered in chapters one, two, and three and Paul’s word about forbearance and anxiety. Years ago, I did not consider it worthwhile for Paul to speak of anxiety. According to my concept, he should have continued to speak about higher things, although I was not clear what these higher things should be.
In Ephesians 1:3 and 2:6 Paul talks about the heavenlies. In your experience day by day are you in the heavenlies or in anxiety? More often than not, we are in anxiety, not in the heavenlies. After the fall of man, human life became a composition of anxiety and worry. If you read Genesis 3 carefully, you will see that anxiety comes from the environment assigned to us by God. For example, we have anxiety with respect to our children. From the moment a child is born, his parents worry about him. Those who do not have children may dream of having a child one day. But they do not realize the worry and anxiety associated with giving birth to a child and raising him. Everything that affects the living of our children gives rise to anxiety. We may worry about their breathing, their diet, and their clothing. Most parents can testify that as far as their children are concerned, their days are filled more with anxiety than with happiness.
Genesis 3 indicates that fallen man is also anxious about making a living. In Genesis 3:17 the Lord said to the man, “Cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life.” In verse 19 the Lord says, “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread.” Because man must labor to maintain his existence, he is full of anxiety. Every farmer is anxious about his crops. He worries about the weather and also about damage caused by disease and insects. Actually there is not one kind of work which leaves us free from anxiety. Even those who are successful in their profession are anxious about their work. Anxiety is unavoidable.
There is also a good deal of anxiety related to married life. Young people desire to be married. Married life is good, but it involves more worry and anxiety than happiness. I encourage all the young people to get married at the proper time, but they should not expect a married life free from anxiety.
Human life is full of anxiety. Angels, however, are not subject to anxiety because they do not have any circumstances to worry about. They do not marry, and they do not need to be concerned about earning a living or taking care of a family. It is not even necessary for angels to sleep. Some people make the mistake of trying to live as if they were angels. But God has ordained all the circumstances of human life, even though these circumstances give rise more to anxiety than to happiness. It seems that sorrow always lasts longer than happiness. There may be a short period of happiness and then a much longer time of sorrow, worry, or anxiety.
What is God’s purpose in assigning circumstances to us which cause anxiety? According to Romans 8, in addition to redemption and the indwelling Spirit, we need “all things.” Verse 28 says, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to the purpose.” To be sure, included in “all things” are sufferings, anxieties, and worries. In order for God to perfect us, sufferings are necessary. From our experience we know that virtually every matter included in “all things” involves anxiety.
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