An Uncommon Joy

Further, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord!  Philippians 3:1

From Guest Blogger Amy Cox:

The day of my young son’s surgery had come. I was a bundle of nerves, but my toddler’s face was filled with a special peace and joy I later realized was rooted in a simple faith. Finding peace during the difficult moments of our lives can be tough, but with God we can have it abundantly and in uncommon ways.

It’s easy to forget what was going on in Paul’s life as he wrote Philippians. It is thought to be one of his “prison epistles,” written during his captivity in Rome. Yet despite facing an unknown future and the possibility of lengthy imprisonment or even death, we see uncommon peace in Paul. More than that, from his confines he tells us multiple times that he rejoices. Paul rejoices at the spread of the Gospel and over the Spirit’s work in his current circumstances (Philippians 1:18). He rejoices because he and the believers in Philippi are able to sacrifice for the good of others (Philippians 2:17-18). And his rejoicing continues through the end of the epistle, as we’ll read next week. It is safe to say Paul has an uncommon trust and attitude toward rejoicing.

Paul’s uncommon way of thinking, made possible by his relationship with Christ, clearly surfaces again in Philippians 3:1 where he tells his readers “Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord.” Paul’s words can be read as a calling to adopt and maintain the same attitude and behaviors Paul demonstrates (Philippians 3:17), which are ultimately modeled after Christ. The Philippians had contributed sacrificially to Paul’s ministry, aiding greatly in the growth of the church throughout the region. Their sacrifices were different than Paul’s, but they served the same purpose — the spreading of the Gospel — and Paul’s hope was that they too would experience the incredible peace and joy God gives his people.

Yet, quick on the heels of his rejoicing Paul addresses those who fail to trust in the Lord (Philippians 4:18-19). Too often an uncommon attitude is hard to come by. The voices of the world contradict God’s truth, question His care for us and even His existence, and breed doubt and fear. These voices lead people, as Paul writes, to the place where “their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.” May we heed Paul’s warning, embrace God’s peace and joy, and live the uncommon life!

Prayer: Thank you, Jesus, for giving us reason to rejoice no matter what our current circumstances. Help us to listen for your voice, trust your Word, and live in your peace. Amen.

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