Our staff at FOCAS ministries has spent the month of June featuring “Joy” as the weekly blog topic. How can such a little word be of any consequence? Ask yourself. Is my disposition prone to joyfulness? Can I give thanks in all circumstances? Am I a glass half full or half empty kind of person?
We learned earlier in the month that “Joy” is a characteristic of a person filled with the Holy Spirit. It’s also a state of being that Paul writes about in his letter to church at Philippians and to us today. He uses the word joy at least six times and it’s used at least 242 times in the Bible; so, it must be important. Since I am a context guy it helps me to have background detail in helping me to understand things better.
Paul uses the phrase, ”then make my joy complete by being like-minded,” in Phil 2:2. This is the same guy who was not exactly welcomed everywhere he went, went hungry, got cold, had lots of sleepless nights, suffered beatings, was shipwrecked, and was in and out of prison. If Joy is a feeling based on experiences that causes the feeling, then Paul was surely not relying on his experiences to justify his joy! Paul’s joy came from a perspective he maintained and not from anything good or bad that happened to him. I am sure he had moments of happiness, sadness, and maybe periods of depression. Regardless, he maintained his joy. How?
Read the rest of chapter two. I believe that Paul’s mind and attitude was focused on the living Christ as he preached his resurrection and return. He understood that he was being used by God to establish and build his church as he loved and served others – regardless of how they treated him. Paul new that God was working in him (and us) to will and to act according to His good purpose (verse 13).
When I pause and look at the broader context of Paul’s mission and life, I find encouragement and a great example to better understand that Joy does not come from my experiences, things, or people. It comes from being faithful to the life God has called me to serve – regardless of my circumstances. Sometimes that is easier said than done.
Next month – Patience!
Scott Bowers - Executive Director