Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:4-7)

Paul’s command to “rejoice in the Lord” is in context to “the book of life” (v. 6) and the resurrection, i.e. when Jesus “will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” (3:21) It is similar to the command Jesus gave his disciples, “do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Lk. 10:20) Our hope must not be set on this age, but rather, “set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (1 Pet. 1:13) Those who live for this age receive their reward in this age (cf. Mt. 6:2; 1 Cor. 15:19). Those seek first the age to come will receive “an eternal glory” (2 Cor. 4:17). Those who live for this age and the age to come live a painfully duplicitous life, “choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures” (Lk. 8:14). Ironically, American evangelicalism (arguably the richest church in history) has propagated just such a choking gospel of inaugurationalism—seek first the “already” and the “not yet” kingdom. Those who embrace such a gospel inevitably “fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.” (1 Tim. 6:9) In the passage above, Paul leads us down a different path—one of single minded devotion to the Cross and the resurrection (see esp. 3:7-21). When Paul says, “The Lord is near” (4:5), he is referencing the Day of the Lord and the return of Jesus. Thus, the anxiety and worries of this life are only assuaged when we rejoice in our eternal reward. We endure the difficulties of this age by making our needs known to our heavenly Father who knows them all (Mt. 6:32). Only by approaching life in this way can the peace of God transcend our “light and momentary afflictions” (2 Cor. 4:17) and thus guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.