"I rejoice and share my joy with you" (Phil. 2:17).
True joy is directly related to godly living.
Philippians is often called the epistle of joy—and rightly so because the believer's joy is its major theme. Paul loved the Philippian Christians and they loved Him. When they learned that he had been imprisoned for preaching the gospel, they were deeply concerned.
Paul wrote to alleviate their fears and encourage their joy. Of his own circumstances he said, "Even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all. And you too, I urge you, rejoice in the same way and share your joy with me" (Phil. 2:17- 18).
Often a Jewish animal sacrifice was accompanied by a libation or drink offering (e.g., Num. 15:1-10). The animal was the greater sacrifice; the libation the lesser. Drawing from that picture, Paul placed greater significance on the faith and spiritual well-being of his readers than on his own life. To suffer for Christ's sake brought him joy, and he wanted the Philippians to understand that perspective and rejoice with him.
He also wanted them to understand that joy doesn't operate in a vacuum. It's directly related to godly living. Christ is its source; obedience is its sustenance. We see that in David's cry of repentance: "Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation" (Ps. 51:12). Paul knew the joy of the Lord because he trusted Christ and obeyed His will.
The scarcity of joy and godliness in the world today makes it imperative that Christians manifest those characteristics. As we do, others will see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven (Matt. 5:16).
This month we will highlight various aspects of joy and godliness from Philippians 1:1-11 and Colossians 1:9-12. I pray you will be eager to learn from God's Word, and willingly obey what you learn, for therein is "joy inexpressible and full of glory" (1 Pet. 1:8).
Suggestions for Prayer
- Ask the Holy Spirit to use our daily studies to strengthen your joy and increase your godliness.
- Seek to emulate Paul's attitude of preferring others to yourself—a key element in joyful living.
For Further Study
Read the book of Philippians, noting each reference to joy.
- What brought joy to Paul?
- On what or whom do you rely for joy?
From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.com.