How to Always Have Joy – Philippians 4:1-9
So then, in this way, my dearly loved brothers, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord, dear friends. I ask Euodia and Syntyche to agree in the Lord. And I ask you, my faithful friend, to help these women. They served with me in telling the Good News, together with Clement and others who worked with me, whose names are written in the book of life. Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let everyone see that you are gentle and kind. The Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And God’s peace, which is so great we cannot understand it, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is anything excellent and worthy of praise, think about these things. Do what you learned and received from me, what I told you, and what you saw me do. And the God who gives peace will be with you.
Paul begins the last chapter of Philippians expressing again his joy. Remember, the entire book is about having joy no matter what! The Philippian church is a great source of joy for Paul. In fact, he tells them they are his greatest possession! They are his “crown.” He does not mean that he “owns” the church. No, the church belongs to Jesus! What he means is that God gave him the charge of growing the church there and equipping it for the Lord’s work. They are “his” in that he is responsible for them and wants to see them become successful, faithful, and to glorify God. In the same way, Pastor Tim and I have great joy to have you as members of this church. We have great joy to be the pastors of this church. We want to see you become mature, successful believers, able to do anything the Lord asks of you! But how can you do this if you do not “stand firm?” To be successful, faithful believers who glorify God, we must stand strong. But how? Paul gives us two ways of doing this.
One way to stand strong is to be in agreement. It is a powerful thing for a church to be in agreement. A church of one mind, as Paul taught us in an earlier chapter of this book, is able to do anything the Lord wants.
Paul gives the example of Euodia and Syntyche. These two women had some kind of disagreement that was bothering the church, and it bothered the church enough that Paul felt he had to say something. Interesting to this is that Paul says both women are faithful Christians who helped him spread the Good News about Jesus. But yet they had a disagreement! The problem seems to be that they allowed their disagreement to upset the church. Perhaps they did not follow Matthew 18:15-20?
Good Christians disagree all the time. This side of heaven it is impossible for us fallen people to agree 100% on everything. What is important is how we handle our disagreements. Matthew 18 teaches us that we are to keep our disagreements private as long as possible, until it is obvious we are unable to settle it between ourselves. If I cannot solve a problem with another Christian by myself, privately, then I am to get trusted brothers or sisters to come with me and try to solve the problem privately again. Only if that fails am I to bring this problem to be settled by the church! It is a sad thing if your church has to step in and solve your personal issues. It is even more sad if you refuse to settle them on your own. We need to reach agreement among ourselves before our disagreements hurt our church the way these women had hurt their church. Stand strong by agreeing in Christ!
The best way to stand strong is to always rejoice in the Lord. Why is this?
- If you have joy, it is hard to be negative.
- If you have joy, it is hard to have conflict or drama.
- If you have joy, it is hard to give in to temptation.
- If you have joy, it is hard to not love people.
- If you have joy, it is hard to not love Jesus!
A joyful person is difficult to tear down. Satan wages war against joyful Christians, because he knows their joy in the Lord is infectious! Sometimes Satan will use your circumstances, your family, your friends, your job, your school, etc. to try and steal your joy. How can we have joy in the face of spiritual warfare and physical realities?
HOW TO ALWAYS HAVE JOY
Paul gives us several ways to always have joy:
Be “gentle and kind” or “reasonable.”
Be gentle and kind with each other. Some translations use the word “reasonable.” Be fair with one another. It is difficult to be negative, confrontational, and unloving when you are kind to people. Even better, it is difficult for others to be that way to you! Kindness, especially in the face of others wronging you, is the biggest and best “revenge” one could get. Kindness is like burning coals to those who do evil (Romans 12:14-21).
Don’t worry about anything, because Jesus is coming.
Why are we so worried about “stuff?” Why do we worry about our economy so much? Why do we worry so much about our money, jobs, school, families? Jesus is coming! He has and will take care of everything we need! And when he comes, we will no longer want for anything! “How much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11)
PRAY! PRAY HARD!!!
Prayer is so very important in the life of a person who loves God and belongs to Jesus. Oftentimes we do not see God work in our lives because we have not asked him to work in our lives (James 4:2-3). If we are standing strong in Jesus, the Bible promises us that our prayers will be successful. “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” (James 5:16) But there are certain things we must be sure to do in contrast with what the world would have us do when we pray.
- We must pray to God alone. We must not pray to anyone other than the God of the Bible. We do not pray to Allah. We do not pray to the Mormon or Jehovah’s Witnesses god. We do not pray to Buddha. We do not pray to pagan gods and goddesses. And we most certainly do not pray to “saints!” None of these can hear our prayers, least of all “saints.” Only God in heaven can hear our prayers (1 Kings 18:20-40), prayed in the name of Jesus (John 14:12-14) by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:26-27).
- We must pray with urgency and desperation. We must beg God to do something! We must be serious and desperate for him. We must cry out to him in total dependence.
- We must pray with thanksgiving. We must thank the One who has commanded us to pray to him, that he might bless us. We must thank him for the many blessings he has already given us, for the blessings he is now giving us, and the blessings we are begging him to give us in the future. After all, God does not have to give us anything!
Paul promises that if we will do these things, we will have joy AND peace!
THINK ON THESE THINGS!
Paul teaches us that another way to have joy is to think on several things. We are to think on what is:
- True. We need to keep our eyes open for what is true. That is why we listen carefully to everyone and compare them against Scripture. If we are not listening, nor comparing with the Bible, we cannot know if someone is teaching us falsely. Be like the Bereans in Acts 17:11!
- Honorable. Does this person/thing honor God? Does it acknowledge that God is who he says he is and that he has sent his Son, Jesus? Does it acknowledge Christ as the only way of salvation?
- Just. Is the thing right? Is the thing fair? Is it right or fair in the same way or similar to the way God is?
- Pure. Does it mirror God’s purity? Nothing in this fallen state can ever be truly pure, but we can look for examples that echo the purity of Christ.
- Lovely. Does it reflect the beauty of God? Does it reflect the beauty of Jesus? Does it reflect the beauty of Scripture?
- Commendable. Does it do a good work? A good job?
- Excellent or worthy of praise. Does it reflect the excellence of Jesus? Does it make you praise God?
It is very hard not to be joyful when thinking on these things!
FOLLOW YOUR LEADERS!
Lastly, Paul teaches us that to have joy, we must follow our leaders.
This does not mean that we are to be blindly obedient or to copy everything we do. We are not independent fundamentalists! This means we are to follow the example set by our leaders. How do we do this?
Watch your leaders. Watch how your pastors, teachers, deacons, etc. serve the Lord. Apply their example to yourself. Figure out from watching them what interests you about serving the Lord and what you think you can do or may be called to do.
Listen to your leaders. Pay careful attention to what they teach you. Pay careful attention to their instructions. If they are teachers of the Word, their teaching will be as life and breath.
Learn from your leaders. Don’t just watch and listen, learn! Seek to understand what they have taught you through your observation and listening. Apply it to your life. Let their teaching change you. Let their teaching change how you face life and the world.
Practice what you have learned. Don’t just blandly accept what you see, hear, and learn – PRACTICE IT! You will never have joy if you just agree in your mind, you must actively be joyful! You must choose, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to act joyfully whatever circumstance you are faced with. You must choose, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to trust what the Bible teaches no matter what your family, friends, school, job, or the world may say about it. You must choose, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to believe and trust in Jesus alone for your salvation, no matter what anyone else says. You must put into practice what God would have you learn and know!
And the best part is, God has promised to be with us if we will but do these things!
A FINAL WORD
I want to leave you with some final thoughts about what we’ve talked about today. Let’s compare how the world says to have joy with how the Bible says to have joy.
- The world says that joy means overcoming circumstances. Instead, the Bible says joy means trusting Jesus because he has ALREADY overcome our circumstances! All of our sins, hurts, struggles, hopes and dreams were overcome on the cross once and for all. We can have joy in Jesus alone!
- The world says that joy is something you must do. Instead, the Bible says that because Jesus has already done all that is necessary, the only thing we can do is trust and obey God. We must believe in Jesus, trust him with our lives, and obey him until we die or he returns!
- The world says that joy means having or doing “stuff”. Instead, the Bible says that joy is not found in “stuff,” but in agreement, gentleness, and thinking on what is good. “Stuff” can never satisfy nor bring joy. What it brings is temporary. It only lasts as long as the new car smell. But the joy that Jesus gives is not temporary, but permanent. It is eternal. And it is only for those who belong to him!
DO YOU HAVE JOY?
Do you have joy? If not, maybe you need to seriously think about what we’ve learned today. Maybe you need to let go of what the world says. Maybe you need to put aside what your family and friends have said. Maybe you need to stop believing the lies Satan has told you about having joy. Start believing today in what God has said is the way to have joy – believe and trust in Jesus alone. Following him is the only way to have true joy no matter what may happen in your life!