Vol. 1 - No. 8 

August, 1982

Prescription For Happiness: Philippians

by Warren E. Berkley

"And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:7)

Do you have the peace described in this verse? Later in the same chapter the apostle tells of the contentment he had learned. He wrote, "for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therein to be content" (Philippians 4:11) Have you learned this contentment? Many who have obeyed the gospel must confess that they do not really have the peace described in verse 7, nor the contentment described in verse 11 of Philippians four.

In the Philippian epistle there is a prescription for happiness. In the epistle Paul gives various rules and he writes about various qualities. If we will learn and then apply these things, we will have "the peace of God, which passeth all understanding," and we can learn to be content, regardless of our circumstances.

1) REMEMBER GOOD THINGS AND GOOD PEOPLE. If we hold grudges over past conflicts and cultivate bitter feelings toward people who have offended us in the past, we cannot be happy. Why not remember good things and good people? This is what Paul did; he cherished the pleasant memories he had about the saints at Philippi (see 1:3‑8).

2) LOOK FOR THE POSITIVE. Some folk seem to have an uncanny ability to seek out, to find, and then to emphasize that which is negative. This concentration on the negative is detrimental to one's mental outlook and happiness. Paul was realistic in regard to sin, and militant in his opposition to it. But he still had the ability to find something positive in situations which were otherwise negative (see 1:12‑18).

3) DEVELOP UNSELFISH HUMILITY. Those who act "through faction or through vainglory" are not happy, contented people. If we will endeavor to develop the unselfish humility Paul writes about in chapter two, our peace of mind and personal happiness will be enhanced (see 2:1‑5).

4) PRESS ON! Some do not have "the peace of God which passeth understanding," and they have not learned contentment because they are not really trying. Paul testified, "I press on ... that I may lay hold." He was "stretching forward to the things which are before" (see 3:12‑14).

5) CULTIVATE HOPE. In times of despair, perhaps we have forgotten the hope possessed by faithful Christians. Regardless of what we might be called upon to go through; no matter what the disappointments are, or the grief or hardships, THERE IS HOPE, for faithful Christians (see 3:20‑21).

6) PRAY. Isn't it true ... that we sometimes worry and agonize and make ourselves sick over things we haven't even prayed about? What a powerful prescription this is: "In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God" (4:6).

7) PURITY OF THOUGHT. If we are always thinking about things that are miserable, pitiful, black, hateful and regrettable we will not have peace of mind and we may become so grim and negative people will shun any company with us. Let us dwell on things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely and of good report (see 4:8).

We can have happiness and peace that was meant for faithful Christians, but we will have to choose to have it. We can have "the peace of God, which passeth all understanding," and can learn the contentment Paul says he learned, BUT WE MUST TAKE THIS PRESCRIPTION.