The Expression of a Life Which Lives Christ
Describe the perfect roommate.
Focus: When we enjoy Christ, we live a life that expresses Christ as our forbearance without any anxiety.
I. Read Philippians 4:1-9.
A. The first aspect of a life of living Christ is in verse 5: “Let your forbearance be known to all men. The Lord is near.” What does forbearance mean?
Forbearance: “That is, reasonableness, considerateness, and consideration in dealing with others, not being strict in claiming one’s legal rights. It is in contrast to selfish ambition and vainglory (2:3) and to murmurings and reasonings (2:14). It is Christ Himself as an excellent virtue lived out of the believers.” (Phil. 4:5 footnote 2, Recovery Version)
Forbearance includes patience and moderation, but goes beyond them. If you have forbearance, you will not argue with others, fight with them, or debate with them. You may have a great deal to say, but you will have patience and moderation in dealing with others and will not say anything in response to provocation or irritation.
Suppose a group of sisters live together. The most precious sister will be the one who is the most forbearing. When difficulties arise, she will be calm and quiet. Even if others offend her, she will not retaliate. Sisters who lack forbearance, however, may easily react when they are offended. In their living there is no calm, no tranquility, no moderation. A proper Christian life is a life of calm. To live such a life means that we do not argue with people or fight with them. (Life-Study of Philippians, msg. 27)
B. After mentioning forbearance, why does Paul mention that “the Lord is near”? After reading the excerpt below, discuss and bring out any experiences on how the Lord’s presence helps us live a life of forbearance.
In 4:5 Paul also says, “The Lord is near.” Many readers of Philippians take this as a reference to the Lord’s coming. I do not say that this does not refer at all to the coming of the Lord; however, I believe that it does not mainly refer to His coming. On the contrary, it refers primarily to the Lord’s presence with us.
The Lord is near; He is with us. When we live Him, taking Him as our pattern and counting all things loss in order to gain Him, we sense that He is present with us. He is near both in space and in time. In space, He is close to us, ready to help; in time, He is at hand, coming soon. Since the Lord is near, what need is there for us to be troubled and stirred up? (Ibid.)
C. The second aspect of a life of living Christ is in verses 6-7: “In nothing be anxious, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses every man’s understanding, will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.” What are the distinctions between prayer, petition, and thanksgiving?
Prayer is general with the essence of worship and fellowship; petition is special for particular needs. Notice that Paul says “with thanksgiving,” not “and thanksgiving.” This indicates that both our prayer and petition should be accompanied by thanksgiving to the Lord. (Ibid.)
D. Share your experience of having peace in a time of turmoil, whether big or small, through your fellowship with God. Read the following excerpt to help jumpstart your fellowship.
When we have problems in our daily life, we do not have to seek advice from others, because we have a spirit in us and the Lord as the Spirit dwelling in our spirit is very near to us. We can ask Him about everything, without any need to use the telephone…for He can talk with us right within us. You can talk with Him and confer with Him in everything.
The Lord’s Word says, “In nothing be anxious, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Phil. 4:6). Hence, if you have some problem, you just need to tell Him. He is right within you, and He is with you face to face.
The Triune God—the Father, the Son, and the Spirit—is in us not to trouble us but to be our Paraclete, Comforter, and Supporter. I always pray, “O Lord, now I am going to take a walk. Support me, sustain me, and strengthen me.” This is to drink the Lord. In this way I have no anxiety. When anxiety comes, you should say, “O Lord, this anxiety is Yours, not mine; I give it to You because You bear it for me.”
Thus, you receive the Lord’s element into you, and metabolism will work constantly in you. Consequently, what is expressed through you outwardly is Christ. This is to live Christ. Those who do not know this secret consider that to live Christ is a difficult thing. Actually, you just need to practice speaking with the Lord constantly; then spontaneously, you will live Christ. (The Organic Aspect of God’s Salvation, ch. 4)
1. Pray-read Philippians 4:6-7 together with your group or in small groups.
2. Start to practice! Schedule at least five minutes this week to fellowship with the Lord personally.