Wednesday, March 7, 2018
Our joy principle for today is this – God designed joy to grow best in the fertile soil of fellowship.
Philippians 1:7-8 7 It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. 8 For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.
Several days ago I met with a pastor who is on staff at a church that has the appearance of fellowship, but is filled with friction. Friction and fellowship can’t coexist. Warren Wiersbe relates a story in his commentary on Philippians about a woman who is counselling with her pastor because of marital tension.
“There seems to be friction in our home,” she said. “I really don’t know what the trouble is.”
“Friction is caused by one of two things,” said the pastor, and to illustrate he picked up two blocks of wood from his desk. “If one block is moving and one is standing still, there’s friction. Or, if both are moving but in opposite directions, there’s friction. Now, which is it?”
“I’ll have to admit that I’ve been going backward in my Christian life, and Joe has really been growing,” the wife admitted. “What I need is to get back to fellowship with the Lord.”
This woman knew that the way to reduce friction, and to improve fellowship, was to travel in the same direction with her husband.
The Apostle Paul declares his fellowship with the people of the Philippian church because they were moving in the same direction. He tells them that it is right for him to be experiencing joy because his fellowship with them is based on their mutual participation in God’s grace. Even when the circumstances became hard and harmful, they stuck with him as a confirmation of the Gospel. Their fellowship was so fulfilling that his heart yearned for them.
There are three ways that we categorize our relationships with others. First, they can be on our mind. We think about them, but that is all we do. Second, they can get on our nerves. Third, they can be in our hearts. This is what Paul says about his relationship with the church at Philippi. He held them in his heart. They were not just on his mind, nor did they get on his nerves. Rather, as he thought about them, his heart was filled with affection for them, and as a result he was filled with joy.
God designed joy to grow best in the fertile soil of fellowship. But the affection necessary for such joyful fellowship is not of human origin – it is only available in Christ Jesus. We cannot love others in such a way that they never get on our nerves. But Jesus can, and He does. His love in us is what gives us the affection we have for others. We do not channel our love through Christ to others. God channels His love through us to others.
We are guilty of trying to love others. We wonder why our nerves are on edge. When we stop trying to love, and experience God’s love, He will overflow from us onto others, and joy will grow in the fertile soil of Godly fellowship.
How do we know if we really have God’s love for other Christians? For one thing, we will be concerned about them, and that concern will result in activity. The believers at Philippi were concerned about Paul and did something about it. They sent Epaphroditus to minister to him. The Apostle Joh said it this way – “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18).
Another evidence of Christian love is a willingness to forgive one another. 1 Peter 4:8 says, “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.”
One day a man responded to a radio quiz program. The radio host asked him, “What are some of the blunders your wife has made.”
“I can’t remember any,” the man replied.
“Oh, surely you can remember something!” the announcer said.
“No, I really can’t,” said the contestant. “I love my wife very much, and I just don’t remember things like that.”
First Corinthians 13:5 states that “love keeps no record of wrongs”.
The fertile soil of fellowship consists of two elements – love in action, and forgiveness. Christians who are in this type of frictionless fellowship will always experience the growth of joy.