Joy is “a feeling of great pleasure and happiness.” It’s the emotion we feel when life is good — when the sun is shining, when our team is winning, when we are healthy, happy, and heartened. Most people do not typically speak of the happiness of heartbreak, the pleasure of migraines, or the bliss of losing.

Philippians is the most joyful book in the Bible — the apostle Paul uses the Greek words for joy and rejoicing sixteen times in only 104 verses. And yet he writes from a dingy Roman prison, a place we would typically associate with misery and trial, which most people assume are the opposites of joy. He’s surrounded by every conceivable obstacle to joy, so why does he seem so happy?

Consider the objects of real joy, the reasons for joy, and the challenges to joy — joy in . . . joy because . . . and joy even though.

Joy in Jesus

In Philippians 3:1 and 4:4, Paul commands us to rejoice in the Lord. What does this familiar command mean? For the apostle, “the Lord” regularly meansthe Lord Jesus Christ (see Philippians 1:2;[3:20]; [4:23]).

Jesus humbled himself even unto death on a cross, the Father highly exalted him, and all will one day pay homage to his universal reign (Philippians 2:6–11). Rejoicing in the Lord means that these truths about Jesus — who he is, what he has done, and what he will do — personally and profoundly affect us.

Rejoicing in the Lord means knowing Jesus Christ as our Lord, Savior, and Treasure. It means he gives us deeper, purer, sweeter, more lasting pleasure and gladness than anything this world has to offer. As Paul says inPhilippians 3:8, “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” Rejoicing in the Lord means that there is a new song in our hearts — the song of the redeemed — that the din and distresses of life cannot drown out. He is the chief object of our joy.

Joy in One Another

Paul rejoices in the Lord and he rejoices in his people. He thanks God and prays with joy because of their gospel partnership, and he urges them to complete his joy (Philippians 1:3–5;2:2). In Philippians 4:1, Paul calls these believers “my joy and crown . . . whom I love and long for.”

Rejoicing in other people may seem like a shift from God-centered joy to idolatrous human-centered joy, but it’s not. We rejoice in God’s people for Christ’s sake, celebrating the work that he has done, is doing, and will bring to completion in and through them at the day of Christ (Philippians 1:6).

Written by Brian Tabb

Full article at Desiring God  



Leave a Reply