You’ve Got Mail!Reminder of the Basis for our Joy: Rejoicing in the Lord. By Scarlett Stough

The letter to the church at Philippi was written by the apostle Paul, according to some authorities, during his house arrest in Rome around 61 A.D. His purpose was to thank the church at Philippi for gifts they had sent to him which was delivered by Epaphroditus. He also gave instruction regarding some false teaching and to encourage reconciliation between Euodia and Syntyche, women co-workers of his in the Lord. He uses the word “joy” or variations some sixteen times in the letter. The church at Philippi had its start during Paul’s second missionary journey into Macedonia. Lydia, a Gentile worshipper of the God of Israel, was the first convert. The church began with a group of women praying by the river outside of the city of Philippi and a Roman jailor. Lydia’s home was used as a place for the new Christians to meet.

Below is one possible summary of the principles Paul gives in the letter that creates an environment for joy to flourish:

  • Gratitude/Thanksgiving to God for all his gifts.
  • Prayer about everything.
  • Practicing the Lord’s teachings.
  • Keeping thoughts godly.
  • Relying on God’s strength/grace.
  • Love, honor, service toward God and others.
  • Eagerly awaiting Christ’s return.

The only solid basis for godly joy is to rejoice* in the Lord, not personal ability or assets, not in religious rites (circumcision for instance), and not in political affiliations (such as Roman citizenship for the people of Philippi.)

Any lasting joy flows out of knowing Jesus. Any other source of happiness is temporary. We can face the realities of our losses, our health problems, our grief, conflicts, our job and family stress with an underlying joy because we are given strength to bear it all by our Lord. “The Lord is near.”

By looking forward to being with the Lord and becoming like him, we can know all of those difficulties are temporary and will be left behind. We have a future beyond this life where God wipes away all of our tears and joy overflows for eternity.

*Rejoice (Strong’s 5463) comes from a Greek word meaning “to be cheerful, calmly happy or well off, a salutation: be well.” It is also translated as “joy” in the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22. (The New Strong’s Expanded Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, 2001.)


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