Dear friend in Christ,
We continue our meditations today in Paul’s letter to the Philippian congregation by placing before us the three statements that were before us when we began this series a month ago. As we have been proceeding through this letter is it becoming increasingly evident that joy is an integral part of Paul’s life. Joy is in integral part of our life as God’s children, for joy is what enhances our relationships and keeps them growing in closeness.
Joy is a reality that is ours through the knowledge that God has reconciled us to Himself through the cross, by His gracious gift we trust in that reality, and even if circumstances change in our lives, our relationship with Him now and forever cannot be shaken.
Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.
Christian joy is shared, it is confident and it is increasing.
Let us review the references that he has been giving to us concerning the joy flowing out of his being.
KJV Philippians 1:4 Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy,
KJV Philippians 1:18 What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.
KJV Philippians 1:25 And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith;
KJV Philippians 1:26 That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again.
Did Apostle Paul have hardships in his life because he preached the gospel? Yes (2 Cor 11:20-33)
Did those hardships take away his joy? No! (Acts 20:24)
What brought joy to Paul? What brings joy to the Spirit? What brings joy within the body of Christ? Paul writes that unity in the body of Christ brings him joy. Let us learn from the Spirit today of how unity in the body brings joy to all believers.
As Children of God, we live in Unity
KJV Philippians 2:1 If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies,
2 Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.
The Apostle John wrote in 3 John 1:4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.
We all know what that is referring to as we have all experienced and do experience the reality of what John is saying. When our relationships are at peace and we are living in unity and harmony with our Lord, with ourselves and with others, life is great! On the contrary, when there is strife and disunity, life is not much fun.
Paul speaks to the importance of unity within the fellowship of believers by asking them to demonstrate through attitudes and actions of that which has been done for them in Christ and through Christ. He begins the chapter with the word “if” which actually means “since.”
He is coming forth to them with a question, but he is rather saying to them more like this: “Now that you have peace through Christ and in Christ, you have the comfort of His love, you are living in the fellowship with and in the Holy Spirit and Christ is the center of your seat of emotions, fulfill my joy through allowing the mind of Christ and the love of Christ flow between yourselves in the congregation.
Paul recognizes that they are under the leadership and guidance of the Holy Spirit, as he does not say, “give me joy” but he uses the word “fulfill”. They are already giving him joy in their Christian lives, so he affirms them in their walk and also encourages them to increase his joy through their relationships that are being lived in unity.
3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
He speaks in general terms, but then gives more specifics by contrasting that which should not be done vs that which should be done. The desire that lies within us to promote self has not died out completely, and will continually work to get back into control of our lives. He calls upon them/us to have the mind of Christ……..
Jesus the Christ is our Example and Model
5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
Paul now moves from the focus of unity to the humility that was in Jesus Christ, who was God and man, but willingly laid aside all the privileges of God in order to become sin for us, so that we might be brought back into relationship with our Father.
The most selfless man in history: He became like us so that we could become like Him. For there never can be true unity without humility, and the greatest example of humility is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He had all the authority, He had the right and He had the ability to refuse the greatest act of humility, but He chose to humble Himself for humanity’s saving……..
From Humility to Exaltation
9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Much much could be said about these three verses which speak of the exaltation of our Saviour by His Father. He has given Him a name, which is above every name, the name of Saviour which describes His mission from the Father for us. It is the will of the Father that none would perish but that all would come to repentance and faith. He wants that all would come to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Can there be any greater desire of our Father, that all would bow before Him in time in confession of Christ as Lord and Saviour? I think not!
He want us to live in our restored relationship with Him through the cross of Christ, but He also want us to be as Christ to the world. In another letter this is illustrated in the life of Paul who wrote a letter to Philemon.
The letter is only one chapter and it is about how Paul is calling upon Philemon to take back Philemon's slave who had run away from him. The slave had been converted through Paul's ministry and so Paul is urging Philemon to receive him back and if there are damages as the result of Onesimus running away, Paul himself agrees to pay him out of his pocket. Paul doesn't demand that Philemon him back, but he urges him to do so on the basis of love. Paul asks him to receive Onesimus as he would receive Paul himself. Then we get to place that always penetrates into my heart when Paul says the following in verses 20-21: "Yes, brother, I want some benefit from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ. Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say."
Christ lived in Apostle Paul, he lives in each of you in this gathering here this morning, and he lives in all those who have come to know and to experience His saving grace. Just consider how Apostle Paul through the Spirit viewed people as through the eyes of Christ which means that He/we look at people through the redemptive work of Christ. It also means that we speak of them in a positive manner, not concentrating on their fallen nature, but knowing that only through their coming to know and experience Christ's grace will they be able to live in the newness of the Holy Spirit which is rrighteousness, peace and joy. Like Paul, I get excited and refreshed in the Lord when I see you beloved people living your lives for the sake of others within our blessed congregation!
Philemon 17 If thou count me therefore a partner, receive him as myself.
18 If he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee ought, put that on mine account;
19 I Paul have written it with mine own hand, I will repay it: albeit I do not say to thee how thou owest unto me even thine own self besides.
20 Yea, brother, let me have joy of thee in the Lord: refresh my bowels in the Lord.
21 Having confidence in thy obedience I wrote unto thee, knowing that thou wilt also do more than I say.
Yes, Christ humbled Himself to save us, but He also infected us to the end that we would be like Him in our lives. May He bless us to the end, Amen.
Pastor Orval Wirkkala