The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. — Philippians 4:5b–7
This passage of Scripture is one of the reasons Philippians is beloved by so many. The encouragement of the Lord’s presence to calm our anxieties and turn to him in prayer, trusting his promised peace to guard our hearts and minds is a treasure indeed. But more than a comforting thought, this passage is part of a call to action issued by Paul to all believers—a call to rest in God’s presence and his promises. This is how we stand firm in the Lord.
Entire books have been written on this beloved passage, but I want to focus on the context in which it’s placed in chapter four. Here we find Paul bringing all of his instruction in Christlike mindset and practice to bear on a rather personal application for the believers at Philippi.
He first opens with this endearing plea, “Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved” (4:1). After underscoring his genuine and tender affection for his friends, Paul broaches a sensitive topic: “I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord” (4:2). These beloved women, who have “labored side by side” with Paul are in the midst of a disagreement which is significant enough for him to intervene via Holy Spirit-inspired Scripture.
I wonder, as this letter was read aloud to the congregation, did these dear women feel the entreaty coming?
And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more (1:9)
let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel (1:27)
complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind (2:2)
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves (2:3)
Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (2:4)
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant (2:5–7)
for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure (2:13)
Do all things without grumbling or disputing (2:14)
As the reading continued did their anxiety rise? Did they squirm uncomfortably in their seats? Did others in the congregation cast sideways glances at Euodia and Syntyche, sitting in opposite corners of the room?
Whatever their disagreement, the solution was to remember who they are in Christ and to humbly submit to him.
Finally, they hear their names—not accompanied by words of strong rebuke, but tender, loving entreaty. “I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord,” and, “true companion, help these women . . . whose names are in the book of life” (4:2–3). Did relief wash over them as they realized that Paul was not condemning, but seeking to help them? Their controversy (if known by Paul, was surely known by their fellow church members), is now brought properly into the light to be dealt with in the manner and the mindset the apostle has been prescribing throughout his letter.
Coming to a resolution won’t mean the church divides into separate camps—Team Euodia and Team Syntyche—to argue it out. Paul’s true companion, whoever he is, is to humbly help these women, and to do so with joy and reasonableness, for this request for mediation is followed immediately by, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice” and “Let your reasonableness be known to everyone” (4:4–5).
And finally, these treasured words:
“The Lord is at hand. do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. — Philippians 4:5b–7
Isn’t this love? Rather than scolding, Paul reaches out to embrace these women with the arms God has made available: the arms of their covenant community. If their dispute had been a matter of doctrine or sinful living, he would have addressed it without hesitation. But he has added no theological reprimands.
Whatever their disagreement, the solution was to remember who they are in Christ and to humbly submit to him. Knowing they belong to Christ overcomes their conflict with the joy of their mutual salvation. Having the mind of Christ will recover their reasonableness in dealing with their disagreements. And the near presence of the Lord will banish their anxieties and draw them to him in prayer. There they can lay their dispute at his feet, asking for the wisdom they need and thanking the Lord for his grace to give it. And the peace of God, which “does not depend upon peaceful circumstances, and thus it transcends natural explanations,” will guard their hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
This wasn’t to be done in isolation, but with the help of their church family. Not staking out their opposing positions, but standing firm, together, striving side by side, for the sake of the gospel, humbly counting each other more significant and looking out for each other’s interests. The believers at Philippi were to help Euodia and Syntyche work out their salvation with fear and trembling, knowing that the God who was near was at work in them. As one, they were called to stand firm in the Lord by resting in God’s presence and his promises.
When we are fighting anxieties about anything—whether alone or in community—we too can take deep comfort in knowing that the Lord is at hand with his promised peace, to guard our hearts and minds in our Savior, his Son, Christ Jesus.
Let’s pray, shall we?
Father, Help me to stand firm in you and not in my own entrenched positions which alienate me from my brothers and sisters in Christ. Give me the wisdom to align my priorities for the sake of the gospel, and the grace to rest in your promises when my heart and mind are in turmoil within me, casting my anxieties at your feet in exchange for your unsurpassed peace in Christ Jesus. Amen.
 Jason C. Meyer, Philippians, ESV Expository Commentary, Vol. XI (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2018), 187
*Originally published at https://markinc.org/dailytreasure as part of a series of devotions on the book of Philippians. Slightly edited from original format.