XXIII. HAVING MERCY ON US
Paul’s experience in Philippians 2 shows us that the Father’s having mercy on us is also His dispensing. In verse 25 Paul told the Philippians, "But I considered it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your apostle and minister to my need." This indicates that Epaphroditus had an intimate relationship both with the Philippians and with Paul. He was an apostle, a sent one with a commission, to the Philippians; he was also a minister who ministered to Paul’s need, because in ministering to Paul’s material need, he ministered like a priest. In verses 26 and 27, concerning Epaphroditus Paul said, "Since he longed after you all and was greatly distressed because you heard that he had become sick; for indeed he had become sick, near to death, but God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me that I might not have sorrow upon sorrow." Paul did not exercise his gift of healing; rather, he experienced and enjoyed the Father’s love in the Father’s dispensing. When Epaphroditus was near to death, God had mercy on him and also on Paul. Epaphroditus was healed not by a miracle but by God’s mercy. This shows us that Paul and his co-workers were continuously under the dispensing of the loving God. They enjoyed healing as mercy that came from God. If it were not for God’s mercy, Epaphroditus would have died. However, through God’s mercy he lived, and Paul was able to send him to the Philippians. This mercy is the divine element dispensed into the believers. We all need to experience this kind of mercy that comes from God in His dispensing.
XXIV. ENCOURAGING AND COMFORTING US
THROUGH CHRIST THAT WE MAY BE
ABLE TO ENCOURAGE AND COMFORT OTHERS
God the Father also encourages and comforts us through Christ that we may be able to encourage and comfort others (2 Cor. 1:4-5; 2 Thes. 2:16-17a). In 2 Corinthians 1:4 Paul said, "Who comforts us in all our affliction that we may be able to comfort those who are in every affliction through the comforting with which we ourselves are comforted by God." This indicates that we must first experience the comfort of God and then we can comfort others with the comfort we have experienced of God. Hence, we must experience God the Father. After we have the experience, we have the necessary spiritual capital with which to comfort others.
In verse 5 Paul went on to say, "For even as the sufferings of the Christ abound unto us, so through the Christ our comfort also abounds." Here, sufferings are not sufferings for Christ, but Christ’s own sufferings as shared by His disciples (Matt. 20:22; Phil. 3:10; Col. 1:24; 1 Pet. 4:13). The suffering Christ suffered afflictions for His Body according to God’s will. The apostles participated in the sufferings of such a Christ, and through such a Christ they received comfort. Because they experienced the divine riches through Christ, they were able to dispense the Triune God into those who suffered for the Lord’s sake that they might be comforted and encouraged. Today we also can enjoy the divine dispensing in the sufferings of Christ as our encouragement and comfort and then dispense the divine riches into those who are in every affliction as their encouragement and comfort.
XXV. GUARDING OUR HEARTS
AND OUR THOUGHTS IN CHRIST
Philippians 4:7 says, "And the peace of God, which surpasses every man’s understanding, will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus." This means that the peace of God in Christ is like a guard patrolling before our hearts and thoughts and keeping them that we may be calm and tranquil. This guarding of our hearts and thoughts is the issue of God the Father’s dispensing. The peace of God guards our hearts and thoughts in Christ Jesus through the divine dispensing. The peace of God is actually God as peace (v. 9), infused into us through our fellowship with Him by prayer, as the counterpoise of troubles and the antidote to anxiety (John 16:33).
Bad news or difficult situations may cause us to worry or to be anxious. However, we can find the antidote to this anxiety when we pray, practice communion with God, and enjoy the Father’s dispensing in the Father’s love. Then spontaneously, even unconsciously, the peace of God is transfused into our inner being. This transfused peace becomes the counterpoise of trouble and the antidote to anxiety. Hence, when we enjoy God as our peace, we are made calm within. This surely is the issue of our experience and enjoyment of God the Father in the love of God.
(Truth Lessons, Level 2, Vol. 3, Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)