Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Philippians 4:4
Hi, My Name is Paul
For those of you not familiar with the book of Philippians, let me give you some background on this book. There is a guy in the bible named Paul that God sent around the world to tell the good news about Jesus. Paul started life as a Jewish Pharisee who persecuted Christians for a living until Jesus got his attention in a big way. One day, Paul was walking down a road and Jesus appeared before him and said, “Why are you persecuting me.” At that moment, Paul went completely blind. After he regained his sight and learned a little more about Jesus, the early church sent Paul as the first missionary around the world. His journey ended with Paul being arrested and sent to jail to await trial. Sadly, Paul would end his life chained to a prison guard. That’s where we find him, when we open up this book, in chains in prison writing a letter to friends he made in Philippi.
Is there anything that strikes you odd about this verse? Rejoice always. Let me repeat myself. Rejoice. What seems wrong about that sentiment? I’ll tell you what: Paul is in chains! He’s locked up! I don’t know about you but if If I’m writing a letter from prison I doubt that I’ll be talking about joy. Here’s what my letter would say: “I’m depressed, I’m frustrated, I’m angry.” “The food’s terrible, it smells, I’m bored, I feel stuck, the TV’s always set to ‘Saved by the Bell’.”
Not Paul. He’s happy, he’s full of joy, he’s light hearted. Here’s what we need to understand about Paul: In his life, everything is horrible and he’s still happy. He is in the opposite situation that we find ourselves in today. Today, we have all the comforts and conveniences imaginable and a hundred different choices of restaurants, and freedom to go anywhere or do anything, and yet we are miserable. Paul was chained in prison, couldn’t go anywhere and had to eat prison food and yet he rejoiced.
Paul had learned a lesson that we all need to learn. He had learned joy. He had figured out a way to be happy in his circumstances. Later in chapter 4 of the same book, Paul says, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” Let me ask you a question: Who wants that? Who wants to be able to find joy where they are at? Who wants to be content in whatever circumstances you find yourself in? I don’t know about you but I’m in for that.
[bctt tweet=”Learn to be content whatever your circumstances.” username=”canyon_springs”]
Since the book of Philippians is all about joy, and since I think that we can all agree that we all need a little more joy in our lives, I’m going to dedicate this week’s blog posts to Chapter 1 of Philippians. Specifically, I want to show you how in that letter alone, Paul single-handedly dispels three very common myths we hold dearly today about joy. Today let’s start with the first misconception about joy. Remember, this statement is totally false but we all tend to live our lives like it’s true:
Myth #1: I cannot be happy unless I’ve got it all together
I can’t be happy until:
- My life is all together
- All my clothes are in style
- I’m having a good hair day
- I’m wearing Manolo shoes
- I’m mentally in a good place
- I’m in shape, healthy and strong
If I have all these pieces together, then I’ll be happy. We don’t actually say that, but when one of these things, or anything else for that matter, is out of whack then our joy starts to leak out slowly. Our minds become preoccupied on that one joy-busting thing and before we know it, we’ve lost our joy entirely. Just one bad relationship, one health issue, one bad month financially and then we aren’t able to be happy anymore.
Good luck if you plan on waiting for your whole life to be together before deciding to be happy. Here’s the problem with that scenario: there is always going to be at least one part of your life that’s going wrong. You’re tired. You’re not doing as well as you want in school. You said something stupid which hurt a friend’s feelings. Since we can’t be all together, we pretend to have it together. We put on a front which by the way, just pushes us farther from the people we want to be close to.
What does Paul have to say about perfect people?
I thank my God every time I remember you. 4In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:3-6
To make it easy, I highlighted verse 6 for you. To paraphrase: He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it. Remember this: You’re not complete. You’re not put together. And you aren’t supposed to be. You are a work in progress.
But being incomplete is only part of the story. The rest of the story is the best part and it’s where we can find our joy: God is working to complete you. He’s working to develop you. He is going to bring out your full potential. Right now you have some blind spots and some rough patches but don’t worry; He is working to complete you.
Here’s what Paul is trying to tell us in this verse. You don’t have to have it all together to find joy. You’re incomplete. God is completing you. Enjoy the journey.
Years ago, Billy Graham’s wife, Ruth, was driving along a road and she ran into some road construction. Don’t you hate that? It’s brutal. So Ruth is inching down this road and finally it starts to clear up. As she exits the construction area she sees a sign: End of construction, thank you for your patience. The moment she saw that sign she knew exactly what she wanted to have written on her gravestone.
Ruth Graham understood that the construction doesn’t end until life does. It’s only then that you’ll have it all together, that you’ll stop learning, stop growing, stop maturing. Only when you die will you be complete so it’s an ugly rumor that you have to have it all together to find joy.
Find joy every day. Find joy today.