Summary: Have you ever, even for a moment, wished you were someone else? Have you ever worried that your life, at its end, would be one of insignificance? Have you ever wondered if you’ll ever measure up? Such thoughts can be crippling. Paul has the antidote.
“Living a Joy-full Life: Be Who You Are”
Have you ever, even for a moment, wished you were someone else? Have you ever worried that your life, at its end, would be one of insignificance? Have you ever wondered if you’ll ever measure up? Such thoughts can be crippling.
Whitney Houston was the most-awarded female recording artist of all time. She seemed to have it all, and yet her friend and costar Kevin Costner shared that she struggled with a common problem—insecurity and anxiety about measuring up. When Costner asked her to star in The Bodyguard, she had her doubts. Costner shares what happened on her first day on the set after her hair and makeup were ready: “Whitney was scared. Arguably, the biggest pop star in the world wasn't sure if she was good enough. She didn't think she looked right. There were a thousand things to her that seemed wrong. I held her hand and told her that she looked beautiful … but I could still feel the doubt.” Whitney asked for twenty minutes to collect herself, and then she came to the set. After only four lines they had to stop. Costner took her back to the dressing room so he could show her what he had seen. Costner said: ‘I turned her around so that she could see herself in the mirror and she gasped. All of the makeup on Whitney's face was … streaking down her face and she was devastated. She didn't feel like the makeup we put on her was enough so she'd wiped it off and put on [her own makeup]. It was much thicker and the hot lights had melted it! She asked if anyone had seen … I said I didn't think so. It happened so quick …The Whitney I knew, despite her success and worldwide fame, still wondered ‘Am I good enough? Am I pretty enough? Will they like me?’ It was the burden that made her great, and the part that caused her to stumble in the end.’”(i) Whitney, you may recall, died in a hotel bathtub, her body ultimately destroyed through decades of drug abuse.
The apostle Paul also had issues. He was weak in his physical stature, his voice was poor, and his confidence shaky. Yet he wrote this marvelous, scintillating joy-filled letter. In fact, he wrote it while in prison awaiting a life or death verdict from his trial. How could he be so joyful? From the very beginning of his letter to the Church at Philippi, Paul expresses how the Philippians can live the same kind of joy-filled lives. But he’s also speaking to you. In his introductory remarks he encourages you to be who you are.
First of all, remember that YOU ARE A SPECIAL PERSON. (1) “To all God’s holy people (‘saints’) in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons...” Paul is writing to the saints in Philippi – to all the believers in Philippi. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, YOU ARE A SAINT. If you have received Jesus Christ as your Savior and accepted Him as Lord of your life, you are a saint. True SAINTHOOD IS AN ASSIGNED DESIGNATION NOT AN ACHIEVED STATUS. It is given, not earned. It is a status for the living not an honor for the dead. When you come to believe in Jesus Christ, you are given the destiny and dignity of being a saint.
It means you are assigned, designated, set apart TO GLORIFY JESUS. So be who you are. In the Old Testament God designated certain things and places as ‘holy’, meaning they were to be used only in sacred ways and for sacred purposes. In the New Testament God designates people as ‘holy’, to live in a sacred way and to be used for sacred purposes. As Robert Smith pointed out (ii), Paul says your permanent address is in Christ Jesus. Your zip code may be Philippi, Corinth, New York City, South Haven, Kalamazoo, or Chicago…it may not be next year what it is today. But your permanent address is in Christ Jesus – it never changes. No matter where you live or how popular you are or are not, you are rooted in Jesus Christ and your dignity comes from Him.
That means you are special and valuable, because God has chosen TO HAVE HIS SON JESUS SHINE THROUGH YOU. It’s said pictorially in a little poem entitled What Is A Saint? “What is a saint?” the youngster asked; So his parents set out to explain. By describing Saint Francis, and Bernadette They attempted to make it plain. They told of Matthew, Mark and Luke, and ended with John and Paul; But the boy just couldn’t relate to this and didn’t grasp it at all. Then the parents went to their church and showed him The stained glass windows there; The faces of the elect shone out As they preached or knelt in prayer. The boy was asked if he understood, And he said, “I think I do; From what I’ve seen, I’d say a saint Is a person the light shines through.”(iii) As Tolstoy once put it, you are Christ in miniature, so if you look down on yourself you are committing blasphemy – because you’re telling God He’s a liar. No matter what others say or think, you are holy, you belong to Jesus Christ and He is shining His light through you. So be the special person you are. Embrace your position and identity as a saint.