I don't know what you're facing today. I don't know what burdens or temptations in this fallen world, I don't know what trials you're going through, how discouraging they may be, physical, financial. I don't know if this pandemic, we have been through, has altered your life in ways that are very troubling. There are times in life where it seems like there's not much reason to rejoice, and that is actually the title that I'm giving to Philippians, “Reason to Rejoice.”
Now, if you look at the history of Philippians, you would conclude there's absolutely no reason to rejoice. Paul is in prison, the church is under attack, the church is disunified, and it's being weakened by false teaching.
Now if you look horizontally, you would say, “We’re cooked! This is not working!” And what Paul is doing in
Ephesians (Philippians) is arguing that no matter what is going on in your life, no matter how severe the things are that you're facing, you have reason to rejoice because of your union with Christ and your citizenship in heaven. Again, you're not just saved, you’re united to Christ; and you're not just a citizen of the kingdoms of earth, you're the citizen of a greater King and a greater Kingdom.
Again, I would summarize this reason to rejoice with four words. Twenty times, Paul uses the word ‘joy’ in this book, twenty times! That means one of the sturdiest things in my life, as a believer, should be my joy. Sickness should not rob me of my joy, financial problems should not rob me of my joy, a person's rejection of me should not rob me of my joy, because my joy is not rooted in created things. My joy is rooted in the love of God and His Son, the Lord Jesus.
Second word is ‘fellowship.’ By Christ’s work, we have fellowship with the Lord; that’s an amazing thing.
A third word is ’citizenship.’ I mentioned already that there's an emphasis in this passage on the incredible reality that we are not just citizens on earth, but we now have a citizenship in heaven.
And then, the fourth word is really two words, it's again ‘in Christ.’ It's incredible in these gospel letters, Paul's zeal to help us to understand that we’ve been united to Christ. And then because of this, there's a call to humbly persevere; don't let anything move you. Paul says, “God empowers you to do His will, and to do His good pleasure, to desire to do what is right and to be able to do it.” I love the emphasis in
Ephesians (Philippians) on empowering grace, “It is God who works in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” So, Paul says, “Rejoice, rejoice!”
It would do well for all of us to get up in the morning and count our blessings instead of counting our complaints. “Do not be anxious!” Don't give way to that paralyzing anxiety and worry where you push the ‘what-ifs’ through your brain one more time.
And then focus on “What is true, what is good, what is true, what is noble, what is honorable, think on these things.” Listen, if you're God's child, if He has saved you by His grace, if He's purchased your ticket to citizenry in heaven, it doesn’t matter what you're facing today; you have reason to rejoice. How about, give your heart to joy today?