Summary: Philippians is a manual on living in joy. Here is how we live with joy in the hard things.
Text: Philippians 1:12-18
Title: Having Joy in the hard things
We have been looking this month at the book of Philippians. One of the major themes in the book of Philippians is joy. The words “joy” or “rejoice” are to be found in all four chapters of the book. ( 1:4,18, 25,26 2:2,16,17,18,28 3:1, 4:14,10)
That’s all the more amazing when you consider that the book of Philippians is written by Paul from a prison cell in Rome.
Of the 12 times rejoice or joy is mentioned in the book of Philippians probably the one that stands out the most is when Paul says we are to “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! “(4:4)
Is it really possible to rejoice in the Lord always? Well Paul certainly believed it was possible and he wrote this letter to show us how. Philippians is a manual on living with Joy!
It’s much easier to rejoice in the Lord when everything is going great. But how is it possible for us to rejoice in the Lord in the hard times?
We are going to answer that question by looking today at Philippians 1:12-18
Here in 1:12-18 Paul speaks of the joy he experienced in the things which have happened to him. And he specifically speaks here about the joy he experienced in the hard things. Paul experienced some very hard things in his life and what he recalls for us in this passage in one of the hardest thing he found himself in.
For as Paul is writing the Book of Philippians he is chained up in a prison dungeon for the crime of preaching the gospel.
Yet as hard as that must have been for Paul what makes it even worse is the fact that some Christians were using the opportunity to try and add more afflictions to Paul.
As he is chained in a prison cell some believers in Rome were questioning Paul’s credentials to be an apostle.
• They were saying things like this; “If Paul is so spiritual why is God allowing all these terrible things to happen to him”? Implying that Paul may not be as spiritual as you all think he is…
• And because Paul is locked up in prison at this time these same believers in Rome were also seizing the opportunity to exercise their selfish ambition and take over his ministry of preaching.
illustration: I have some bad news and some good news
The bad news is that this morning you came to church expecting to hear the Apostle Paul preach but he is in a bit of trouble again and can’t be here. The good news is that God has raised me up to take his place.
Yet even in this most difficult thing Paul still finds the opportunity to rejoice.
And in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice. (v18)
How is Paul able to rejoice and have joy in the hard things?
The only reason Paul was able to have joy in the hard times and this is clearly brought out in the passage is that Paul had a different understanding of what brought him joy.
Illustration: what brings you the most joy?
Family, work, possessions, freedom, money, a holiday…supporting a winning sports team
None of these things could be what brought Paul the most joy because he didn’t have them with him in the prison
So what was it that brought Paul the most joy? We do not need to guess.
• V12 The furtherance of the gospel
The things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel.
• V18 The preaching of Christ
Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.”
Paul then gives 3 examples of how what has happened to him in the prison has turned out for his joy.
1. It has become evident to the whole palace guard and to all the rest that my chains are in Christ.
Context: Historians believe that Paul is not chained to a wall but chained to as many as four guards at one time. What is Paul doing while chained to 4 prison guards at one time? He is preaching Christ to them.
Do the math. 4 guards every shift. 3 shifts a day. Paul is preaching Christ to 12 guards a day. 84 guards a week. Some of those guards end up getting get saved because Paul ends the book of Philippians in 4:22 “All the saints greet you, but especially those who are of Caesar’s household.”
Why does Paul single out for special mention those who are of Caesar’s household?
Because they were a product of Paul’s suffering.
The friends you make in the hard times tend to be more special than the friends you make in the good times.