Read Philippians 4:1-13
JOY – I am content and grateful without regard to the circumstances surrounding me.
It doesn’t come by willing it. We can’t get joy through sheer desire or strength of will, nor can we attain it by merely thinking happy thoughts. For joy is much deeper than happiness.
I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want (v. 12).
The Philippians had just read through Paul’s discussion about his very great human accomplishments, of which he had many. We can read it in chapter 3, where he writes that all these things were but a loss to him now that he had found solid hope, the only real kind of living and joy, in the truth of what Jesus Christ gave him – righteousness and citizenship in heaven. So as the church in Philippi turned the page to chapter 4, they knew how to “stand firm in the Lord (v. 1)” – with clear hope in eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ alone.
When Paul wrote this bit about rejoicing, about living and rejoicing in God always, he sat in prison, incarcerated for sharing the truth about Jesus Christ, the very God in Whom He wrote,
Rejoice . . . always (v. 4).
That fact alone emboldens his words. I mean, really? Rejoice? Even in the midst of injustice, darkness, unfairness? You see, if Paul needed circumstances to fill him with joy, he would certainly not have written this book called Philippians. In fact, what Paul needed, and what each one of us needs in order to live out the virtue of joy, was to live according to the truth he believed.
I can do everything through him who gives me strength (v. 13).
This everything-power that Jesus Christ gives, this knowing that only through His strength can we live fully and really, this is how Paul could say “Rejoice!” This is how he could write “Do not be anxious . . .” This is how he could live out the virtue of joy.
Joy comes from a solid foundation of faith in God. A faith that can only come through trusting the blood that Jesus Christ shed for forgiveness and life. Yes, the virtue of real joy can only come through Almighty God Himself. A gift that Almighty God gives when we trust Him for our living. For our joy.