We have been studying through Philippians in our Men’s Group that meets in my home. As we recently reviewed chapter 2 a few truths occurred to me that I already knew, but really grabbed my attention in this section of Scripture. It jarred me (again) to see the number of commands for us to humble ourselves and to feel the weight of the Holy Spirit’s call for all Christians to love and serve others sacrificially.
I have heard Philippians referred to so many times as the “Joy Book”. I guess this makes sense because of the joy Paul expressed for Christ and the Philippian church (1:18; 2:17; 4:10), as well as his repeated commands for Christians to rejoice (2:18, 28; 3:1; 4:4). But, as I studied my way through chapter 2, again seeing all the commands for humility, service, and unity, a thought hit me and continued to bounce around like a pinball. I know I’ve seen this in Scripture before, but not like this specifically. Could it be that the Christian’s joy is (partly, at least) wrapped up in humble, sacrificial service to others for the glory of God?
We see this in the teachings of Jesus (In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” – Acts 20:35 ESV), as well as in His example (…looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. – Hebrews 12:2 ESV). We also know this from experience. I know that some of the most empty, joyless times of my life have been when I have selfishly pursued that new widget, gadget, or experience, only to obtain it and have that initial feeling of happiness almost instantly slip through my hands like sand. I know I’m not alone in this. We also know the joy and satisfaction of selfless service/ministry to others in the name of Christ.
As Christians, we know that we rejoice in God for the grace, mercy, and love we have received in Christ. And we need to constantly be reminded that one way we can live with a joyful heart is to look to the interests of others and count them as more significant than ourselves (Philippians 2:3-4)! Humility and sacrifice, not pride and ambition, are the paths to joy. This is the way God has designed the world to operate.
Men, we are called to serve, to pour ourselves out for the glory of God-in our home, for our church family, at work, school, community, etc. Will there be some things we give up? For sure. But, joy is not one of them… Which happens to be what we’re really looking for anyway!