“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”
— PHILIPPIANS 4:4 (NIV)
When joy is our central theme we can expect to feel encouraged as a result. The Apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippians is, therefore, to be of great encouragement to Christians everywhere, even if they, like him, may be enduring adversity.
When we consider joy, the word happiness is often elicited. But joy is a deeper thread of quiet confidence as we go about our lives knowing God loves us, not in spite of our challenges, but often because of them. God loves us anyway, and joy is that knowledge of who we are in Christ.
Joy in Suffering
Paul wanted the believers in Philippi to know that despite his chains (in being in house arrest) that the gospel was spreading like wildfire. We can know that when we are working for God we will be blessed somehow. God will cause us to be encouraged if we are truly looking unto Jesus.
Joy in Serving
In taking a deeper look at our identities, which are to be grounded in Christ, Paul implores us to imitate Christ’s humility – God incarnate who would humble himself to die on a cross. We are encouraged to work out our salvation as God works in us. As we hold onto the Word of God we are to hold it out as we serve and, thus, shine like stars in the universe. This Christian service surpasses and transcends works; it’s the way we apply ourselves to all of life.
Joy in Believing and Obeying
Paul warned the believers in chapter 3 about backsliding into legalism or complacency – thinking they were perfect already. He urges them to press on toward the goal of their salvation. Spiritual maturity may have come into view, but we’re not there yet. We should rejoice for the fact that one day soon we will meet our Lord, and our lowly bodies will be transformed!
Joy in Giving
When we experience joy we cannot help but feel generous as our hope overflows. Some of the most encouraging Scripture ever written is contained within Philippians chapter 4. It is inspiring to know that we may do all things through Christ who strengthens us, and that we are able to live joyously under trying circumstances when we are empowered by the Holy Spirit.
Joy is ours when we are anchored to the hope of salvation in Jesus Christ; upon whose identity ours is grounded.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.