Last summer Tim Keller came to my home church in Memphis. I was in town, but getting over being sick and did not go. I ended up getting the tape of it, and he preached on Philippians 4:4-13. It was a message that at that time was very timely for me to hear. I ran across my notes from it the other day and thought I’d share some of the things he shared:
“There’s a difference between a morally restrained heart, a heart that has its impulses and its emotions tamped down, controlled from the outside by will power, and a supernaturally, gospel-changed heart, a heart that’s got its dispositions, feelings, orientations and attitudes changed from inside, long-term, permanently by the gospel.”
Keller said that there are 9 traits of a supernaturally-changed, gospel-changed heart; those are the fruit of the Spirit that are found in Galatians 5:22-23.
His quote resonated with me because it’s easy to have a life managed by will power and think then that everything is right in life, but when a supernatural change comes that is fueled by the gospel and the Spirit, even if things look similar to the outside world, the change is absolutely incredible. And to those who really know you, the difference will be obvious.
I know this from experience – trying so hard to live well, perfectly, yet so unhappy, and not realizing I was missing something called the Spirit-filled life and joy. Not that I now have things perfectly in order (I hardly have anything in order these days!), but there has been a fundamental change that only the Spirit could produce. Reminds me of Paul’s words in Philippians 3:12-14.
Keller went on then to talk about peace from Phil. 4:4-13 and what we are to think about. He described the character of peace–what it is. It is a deep, inner equilibrium, deep contentment in all circumstances, a tranquility, a lack of anxiety. The apostle Paul’s life was an example of one of peace in spite of torture, imprisonment, death.
Keller said there are many books on stress that talk about emptying the mind of negative thoughts – “just stop those thoughts” and “just don’t think about it” – and how calm in our culture means emptiness.
But the peace that Scripture teaches is not the absence of thoughts, but the presence of a Living Power. You can lay down and sleep knowing you have soldiers encamped about you. You have something greater than what’s wrong.
There was much more to his sermon (disciplines to develop peace, how the gospel produces peace, etc.), but these particular thoughts above really ministered to me, so I thought I would capture them here.