Monday, January 31, 2022
We are currently studying the book of Philippians and discovering how we can be people of joy. Paul was in prison and in chains, and was convinced that his suffering would not end soon. In fact, he even states in His letter to the church that he was facing death. He understood that his life was being poured out like a drink offering. Yet he said he was glad and rejoiced with all of the people in the church at Philippi. How is that possible?
Philippians 2:12-18 “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed-not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence-continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life-in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing. But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.”
First of all, he was glad that his dear friends in the church were people who obeyed the Word of God. They were not just hearers, but doers of what they had been taught. He compared them to stars in the universe that shine in the darkness because they were holding out the word of life. This concept of “holding out” is powerful. Paul uses the same Greek word in 1 Timothy 4:16 when he says, “Watch your life and doctrine closely.” The word means to “give attention to, hold onto, and apply with action.” The people of the church at Philippi were people who paid attention to the teaching of God’s truth, held onto it, and applied it to their actions. When Paul saw them doing that while he was with them it gave him great joy. When he heard that they were still living that way he was filled with more joy.
This kind of obedience and application of truth is possible because God is at work in us to accomplish it. Paul’s statement that we are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling can cause confusion. He is not stating that we work for our salvation, but that we work to apply our salvation to how we live our lives. God is at work in us to give us the will, or desire, to live obediently by acting according to His standards. This is reason to rejoice. Put simply, when by faith we receive from God through Jesus Christ the forgiveness of sin and the salvation of our soul, the Holy Spirit stimulates a desire to obey Him and serve Him. He supplies passion to fulfill God’s good purpose. When we live according to those desires we experience joy. Others who observe us are also filled with joy.
So the three principles we learn from this passage are these:
- We will experience joy, even when we are suffering, when we are fulfilling the desires God has placed in our hearts to accomplish His purpose.
- Others will experience joy when they see our lives of obedience and dedication to accomplishing God’s purpose.
- We will experience joy when we see those we brought to Christ and discipled living obedient lives according to God’s desires and purpose for them.
Ultimate joy, even in suffering, is possible when all three of these things are happening in our lives. Which ones, if any, are lacking from your life right now? There are many factors that may be keeping one or more of these joy-producers from working in our lives.
- Selfish desires stop #1 from happening.
- Peer pressure stops #2 from happening.
- Fear of witnessing and personal involvement with other people stops #3 from happening.
Let’s carefully review our lives and renew our commitment to seeking God’s purpose in all things, and to living out God’s Word in all areas, and the joy will return.