Paul’s letter to the Philippians is full of joy. He sees a church growing in faith as it ought to, and writes to encourage and strengthen them, and keep them on the right path. Reading this letter hopefully makes you hunger for the kind of joy which Paul shows, even despite his being in prison and under the threat of death. My (very cool) ESV study bible highlights the following points:
- 1:4 Paul Prays with joy
- 1:18 Paul rejoices that Christ is proclaimed
- 1:25 Paul will remain living on earth, for the Philippians’ joy in the faith
- 2:2 Paul asks them to complete his joy
- 2:17-18 Paul is glad and rejoices with the Philippians
- 2:28 Paul sends Epaphroditus, that they might rejoice, and receive him with joy
- 3:1 Paul tells them to rejoice in the Lord
- 4:1 Paul tells them they are his joy
- 4:4 Paul tells them twice to rejoice in the Lord
- 4:10 Paul rejoiced in the Lord at the Philippians’ concern for him
So how do we go about taking hold of the joy promised to us in Christ?
- Paul makes it clear that Christians need to keep making progress in their lives.They are not called to passivity, but to growth.
- Having a proper spiritual outlook, founded on right doctrine, is crucial to this walk towards spiritual maturity.
- Mature Christians can serve as role models (Paul, without pride, exhorts the church to follow his own example)
- Christ is the ultimate role model for Christians. His humility, servant heart and sacrifice are our ultimate examples. The Great hymn in Philippians 2:5-11 (he did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing…) reveals Christ as our great example and worthy leader.
- Suffering will come, but through faith it can be met with joy.
- Prayer is crucial for maintaining a joyful Christian life.
- The gospel is not individualistic: fellowship and unity are fundamental components in a gospel-centred church.
- We must always remember that our salvation has come from Christ, and only by trusting that can we be saved. We cannot trust in observance of the law for salvation.
Our joy is purchased by Christ, expressed in humility, gratitude, unity with one another and fellowship with God. We have a joyful gospel! Be encouraged.