Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe. (3:1)
It’s funny how Paul uses “finally” only half way through the letter. It’s like me getting 20 minutes into a 40 minute sermon and saying, “and just one last thought before we close”.
However, this is actually marking a transition point in Pauls letter. It’s similar to saying ‘As for the rest of matters’. So as we consider what the rest of Philippians has to say we see something emphasised at the outset. That is to “Rejoice in the Lord”
The New Living Translation says it like this:
Php 3:1(NLT) Whatever happens, my dear brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord. I never get tired of telling you these things, and I do it to safeguard your faith.
Before dealing with the issue of legalists within the church and the dangers of placing confidence in the our fleshly efforts to please God, he calls on the believers to have a spirit of rejoicing in the Lord.
It’s noticeable that it is often the false views described in this chapter that rob believers of joy.
This idea of joy or rejoicing is what flavours Philippians. A form of joy occurs twelve times. Paul knew it was this attitude that we all need in our lives.
But what is true joy?
Often happiness is mistaken for joy. But they are very different.
· Inward joy comes from knowing and trusting God; we can feel joy in spite of our deepest troubles.
· Happiness is temporary and often is affected by external circumstances. (Pain, sorrow, sickness, poverty and tragedy).
But Christian joy can ride high over all the billows of life. Proof of this is found in the fact that Paul gives this exhortation from prison.
Joy is a natural by-product of our faith as we walk in the Spirit.
Just like love and peace.
So what if we don’t have joy in our current circumstances?
It probably means one of two things covered in this LAST HALF of Philippians:
1. Our perspective is off.
2. Our focus is off.
In regards to perspective:
The end of Chapter 3 deals with this:
· the promise of eternal life,
· understanding that this world is not our true home.
· Having expectancy of the Lord’s return.
Php 3:20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,
Php 3:21 who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.
Noting also in verse 21, that it is all tied in with the Work of God, not our own fleshly efforts. We can’t earn our salvation, therefore we don’t have that weighing over us!
Secondly, It may also mean our focus is wayward:
Php 4:8-9 (NKJV) Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.
So serious question: Are you focusing, dwelling, meditating on the right things in your life right now?
The people that Paul was advising the believers to beware of were the joy breakers. It's worth considering what version of Christian living we fall under.