Summary: Third in series "Restoring the Joy" a study of Philippians. This message addresses that fact that Joy Can Be Found In Living With A Proper Perspective On The Eternal. On Our Citizenship On Hardships
Restoring the Joy
Sermon # 3
“Joy Is Found In Living With The Proper Perspective!”
You will remember that Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi was written while he was imprisoned, literally shackled to a guard 24 hours a day. Yet no portion of the Bible has more to say about the subject of joy. Paul refuses to allow the restrictions in his life to become a cause of bitterness, and instead looked to see what God given opportunities he might see in them. Paul knew that joy is a choice.
But life sure can get complicated, can’t it? Sometimes life’s frustrations are captured very well in cartoons. Charles Schulz in his famous “Peanuts” cartoon captures the problem that we are going to be looking at today. In one particular cartoon, Lucy has the floor, delivering one of her lectures. “Charlie Brown,” she begins “life is a lot like a deck chair. Some place it so that they can see where they are going. Others place it where they can see where they have been. And some so they can see where they are at the present.” Charlie sighs, and says, “I can’t even get mine unfolded.” I am sure that more than a few of us can identify with Charlie Brown. Some times our perspective gets a little out of wack.” [Charles Swindoll. Laugh Again: Experience Outrageous Joy. (Dallas: Word, 1991) p. 63]
Perhaps the greatest challenge to our joy is learning to live with the proper perspective. Learning what is important in life and what is not! When we lose perspective in life, we also lose joy. When we do not see the difference between good and best, we do have perspective. When we do not see the difference between the means and the ends in life, we do not have perspective. When we do not see the difference between the temporary and the eternal, we do not have perspective.
First, Joy Can Be Found In Living With A Proper Perspective On The Eternal.. (vv. 21-23)
“For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. (22) But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. (23) For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.”
Paul uses a word (senechomai) (v. 23) to describe his situation of being between pressed by two different options. It is a picture of a traveler in a narrow path between two solid walls of rock. Paul says that there are two alternatives in life and he assesses each alternative. He says, “I am either going to live or I am going to die this year.” And it appears to me that those are two broad possibilities that we all face.
Paul says that one possibility is to remain here and the other is death, which means departure. He uses a Greek term right out of his own vocation as a tent maker – the term means to “strike your tent or pull your tent down.” So death to him was merely a change of location. It was the pulling down your tent and moving and setting up someplace new. It’s no big thing. It is just a departure. Paul says, “Death is just departure, just picking up your tent and moving someplace else.”
I have always liked the story that is told about John Quincy Adams, the sixth President of the United States. “When John Quincy Adams was eighty years of age a friend asked him, “Well, how is John Quincy Adams?” “Thank you,” he replied, “John Quincy Adams is quite well. But the house where he lives is becoming dilapidated. It is tottering. Time and the seasons have nearly destroyed it, and it is becoming quite uninhabitable. I shall have to move out of it soon. But John Quincy Adams is quite well, thank you.” John Quincy Adams understood what Paul was talking about.
The benefit to Paul was that he would instantly be with the Lord in Heaven. In 2 Corinthians 5:6, 8 we read, “So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord …. (8) We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.” To die for Paul would not be a tragedy but instead it would be the realization of his hope and expectation. On one hand death would be a release from all the toils and troubles of this life; and more than that, death is the gateway into Christ’s presence. The truth is that only those who are prepared to die, are ready to live.