Summary: Realizing that "Outlook determines outcome" is not good new for many because we tend to look into an opportunity and see a PROBLEM. Discover God's perspective as layed out by Paul.
A Healthy Outlook on Life
* I begin with this well known statement, “Outlook determines Outcome.” This is not good news for many. Because these have bad attitudes, pessimistic tendencies, and generally find the bad inside the good.
* By the way, ‘if you are looking for the bad in this life, you can find it.’ Spoke to a friend of mine on Tuesday of this week. She told me of a phone call to get a reference on a pastor and, in her words; it was obvious that the caller was looking for dirt. May I offer you a couple of thoughts about this; a) If you are determined to find something, you will generally come to believe you have found it, whether in fact you have or not. In other words, the danger of a negative spirit is that you will become self-deceived. b) A negative, pessimistic, always looking for the bad ‘spirit’ doesn’t honor God & does not please Him. In fact, for the one who carries this attitude there is question about whether they walk with God or not, & c) a negative spirit is a dangerous thing. It tends to make one see the world through a fog. The world is depressing enough without you & me adding to the dilemma.
* If anyone would have reason (not excuse) to become negative, it would be Paul. Here he is sitting in a Roman jail, shackled to a Roman guard, & having a good idea that the end of his life on earth is near. And it is in this environment that Paul writes these words. Paul gives us 4 things-said:
1. Be Glad – (Verse 4) When I read the word ‘rejoice’ in scripture I am mentally always taken to scripture where I am reminded of the Wise Men in Matthew 2 seeing the staring and “REJOICING” with GREAT JOY. I am reminded in Luke 1 in the Magnificat of Mary where she sings, “My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” Also, I am taken to the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus says, “When people bully you for my sake, REJOICE and be GLAD, for did the same thing to those who came before you.” So we get to our Philippians text.
a. The Command – Paul writes to ‘rejoice’ and adds the word “always” (which means ‘no matter what!’) Might I suggest that ‘rejoice’ means that you experience joy once again? The “Joy of the Lord” is our strength (Neh) but it is also the badge we wear (Acts). Luke tells us the first century believers had gladness & sincerity. Here’s a secret; one doesn’t have to forfeit to possess the other. Paul, chained to a Praetorian Guard, still showed & wrote about “JOY”. Years earlier Paul wrote to the Galatians saying, the “Fruit of the Spirit is love, ‘joy’; & now Paul was living out this joy.
* I dare say that too many “believers” fold their arms demonstrating a deep seated unhappiness and just like Bro. Steve Hale reminded us; if a person carried unhappiness or unforgiveness within, over time it will begin to affect the looks of that person. This is why the command is to rejoice.
b. The Condition – Admittedly there is only one way to rejoice. If we set our own standards for rejoicing, then we will never get to the place of rejoicing because life is hard. If we only see through the eyes of our humanity, we will (most likely) never rejoice. However, here’s the condition Paul laid forth. He said, rejoice “IN THE LORD.” This is the way to be joyful. Consider this truth; we have many unhappy people who are ‘in the church,’ but seem to forget they are IN THE LORD. Our joy leaves us when we attempt to find our joy in choir, ss, church, or ministry. Only in Jesus is there “peace, joy, love, gentleness, etc”.
c. The Continuation - This is a big deal in the lives of most people. We can rejoice when we get saved or we recommit our lives or even when someone else gets saved. But how long does it or will it last? I submit that whether we regularly rejoice or not has a great deal of impact on our outlook on life. This is why Paul writes, “Rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS and I SAY IT AGAIN – REJOICE”. Jesus tells us “I will always be with you” and that “I will never leave or forsake you!!” What a promise to keep us joyful and joy-filled! Here’s the take-away; it is difficult to be glad if you are not talking, walking, and living in the Lord. So, what about your life?
2. Be Gracious – In verse 5 the HCSB uses the word ‘graciousness’ but this is a really interesting word. To read many translations is to get the idea of the significance of this word. It means mildness, patience, yieldingness, gentleness, reasonableness & even moderation. Dr. Macknight says it means, ‘meekness under provocation, readiness to forgive injuries, and sweetness of disposition. As I remember graciousness, it strikes me as forgiveness & compassion coupled with Christian love. It is certainly not a ‘me-first’ mentality like was seen & reported on black Friday.