LifeLink Devotions (Click for Audio Blog)
Tuesday, January 25, 2022
For the rest of this week I would like to spend some quality time reflecting on the subject of joy from the book of Philippians. Paul wrote this letter to the church at Philippi while he was in prison, and yet it was his most uplifting and encouraging letter. What makes that kind of joy possible when the circumstances of life were so horrible? I think we will discover some wonderful truths that will help us not only know the answer to that question but also experience joy for ourselves.
Philippians 1:3-6 “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.“
I believe it is very significant that the first statement of joy that Paul makes to the people in Philippi while in his prison cell is based on his relationship with them. Relationships are vital to the experience of joy in our lives. Paul calls the people in this church his partners in the Gospel, and it is because of that partnership that he is able to endure hardship.
We see this principle worked out in a variety of ways in our everyday lives. Like athletes who press on toward the prize of winning a championship even though they are seriously hurting from an injury because they are surrounded by partners in the pursuit of the goal who support them and carry out their roles.
This is what the people of Philippi were to Paul – partners in the work of bringing people to Christ. Even though Paul was sidelined by his imprisonment he was filled with joy when he thought of the partners he had who were still hard at work to carry out their commission to spread the Good News. I have discovered this joy of partnership in the church. So many pastors have yet to experience it because they are forced to do all the work alone. They are leading a flock of impotent and sterile sheep who are unwilling to propagate the Gospel. Somehow they have gotten the idea that it is the shepherd’s responsibility to produce more sheep. These churches may be filled with people who do all kinds of work in the church, but fail to do the necessary work of evangelism in the world. I know the sorrow that is produced in the heart of a pastor when he is leading a church like that.
I also know the joy of being in partnership with people who are experiencing the work of God in their lives. They are at work in the church and in the world focused on the salvation of lost souls. They are growing in their love for Jesus Christ, which is expressed in their abounding love for each other. (see Philippians 1:9-11). They are striving for purity and holiness, and their lives are filled with the fruit of righteousness so that it is obvious that they belong to Jesus Christ. I am overflowing with joy right now as I write this because it is true of the sheep at my present church.
I praise God for our partnership in the Gospel. When things go wrong on any given day, and hardship comes, I am filled with joy anyway because of that partnership, knowing that we are serving our Lord and Savior with all of our heart. I trust that your partnership with me brings you the same joy.