Anyone familiar with the book of Philippians can tell you that the theme is joy. Paul commands Christians to rejoice or to have joy no less than 15 times in just four chapters! Here’s a short overview of the entire book.
Chapter 1 is about rejoicing because Christ is our life. “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21 ESV
Chapter 2 is about rejoicing because Christ is our example. The rather large chunk of Scripture in Philippians 2:1-11 says, “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Chapter 3 is about rejoicing because Christ is our glory. We see this in Philippians 3:3 when we are called to glory in Jesus Christ and to put no confidence in the flesh. We see this in Philippians 3:10 when Paul says that he wants to know Jesus and the power of His resurrection, becoming like Him in His death. And We see this in Philippians 3:21 when speaks of Jesus giving us glorified bodies.
Chapter 4 is about rejoicing because Christ is our strength. Just in the first verse Paul calls us to stand firm in Him! And then of course we have one of the most popular out-of-context verses in the Bible: “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” Philippians 4:13. However, the previous two verses reveal Paul’s mindset. Philippians 4:13 is not about being able to “achieve your dreams” or “giving a hat tip to heaven when life is going well” but Paul is reminding us that we can endure not matter the circumstances. Pairing it with Philippians 4:11, Paul is saying that he can be content in any and every lot of life.
For the Philippians, it was probably pretty hard to rejoice. Paul was in prison. One of their key members, Epaphroditus was ill. They were persecuted daily for their faith. Yet they rejoiced because God is always at work. The gospel of Jesus Christ was advancing. And God was going to complete the good work He began in them.
If you’re finding it hard to fight for joy this week, or ever, go through the book of Philippians. Pray for the Spirit to grant you understanding and conviction as you read it. And rejoice always.
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” Philippians 4:4