Tuesday, August 01, 2006
The Beauty of Philippians: My Joy and Crown

When I first became a Christian, Philippians was the first book I studied. It was such a wonderful introduction to the Christian life and faith. If I wrote down everything I had read and thought about this book, we would be here for a very long time, so I chose to focus on a word study of one of the great themes of Philippians.

The most striking things about this letter is where Paul was when he wrote this - sitting chained to a Roman guard while Christians were being persecuted by Nero! Yet it is a book about joy and rejoicing! We see a completely different meaning to the word 'joy' - it is not just a feeling of happiness when things go right, but a deep rejoicing and contentment that can only come from knowing who Christ is and what he has done.

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.
Phil 1:4

What a wonderful way to remember people - to remember them in your prayers and with thanksgiving! This joy comes from the fellowship of the Holy Spirit and the fellowship of our fellow believers, working together for the common purpose of furthering the Gospel and glorifying God.

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
Phil 2:1-3

Paul here encourages the believers to think alike, to love one another, to act without selfishness, and to look after others, because of their love for Christ. He sets them the example of Christ to follow, in how he came in utter humility as a servant and confined as a human before God glorified him. We are asked to do the same - to regard ourselves as nothing, to become servants, to humble ourselves and to be obedient - knowing that a greater and more precious prize awaits us in heaven.

I am the more eager to send him, therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. So receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honour such men, for he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me.
Phil 2:28-30

The Philippian church had sent Epaphroditus 700 miles to be with and to care for Paul. Here Paul is sending him back (probably carrying this letter), but he is not doing so with bitterness or jealously. His unselfish concern shines out, knowing the joy that it will bring to the Philippians to see Epaphroditus, especially after they heard about how unwell he had been. Paul reminds the church to treat him and "such men" with honour. God's servants on earth should be treated with appreciation and respect for their travail on earth until they receive that honour in heaven. It makes me wonder how we treat God's workers now...

Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.
Phil 4:1

Paul reminds the church in Philippi and now all over the world to stand firm with regards to the Christian life, imitating "those who walk according to the example you have in us". We are also to remember that "our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ" who has saved us from our sin, who continues to work out our salvation, and who on the last day will complete our salvation. We have to live in light of heaven, knowing that our true home is there - we are only visitors for a short time here on earth.

For us today, may the Lord help us to remain fervent in prayer for one another, to join together in fellowship and partnership in the Gospel, to love one another and to serve one another, to honour men and women who serve God, and to stand firm in our faith knowing that "he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ".

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  posted at 09:00  

At 02 August, 2006 11:15, Anonymous Blair said...

Paul's attitude in the midst of this is astounding. Obviously he was encouraged by the church and Philippi and he too encouraged them. Nice post! I think you captured the essence of his joy (despite circumstances) so well.

At 02 August, 2006 13:36, Anonymous Nicole said...

I really enjoyed your post. In my studies, I've realized that true joy is not an emotion and it isn't based on circumstances. It is priceless and can only be found in the Lord. You did a great job on this study.

At 02 August, 2006 17:24, Blogger Chel said...

Your last paragraph is such a reminder to me that we should be steadfast in our faith, in our prayers for one another.

At 03 August, 2006 23:37, Blogger Keziah said...

Thanks for coming by and for all your encouragement! I really loved revisiting this book and learned so much AGAIN from studying it. I hope you all enjoyed studying this book too.

At 05 August, 2006 11:59, Blogger Jennifer said...

It was great to read through this again.

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