Summary: In this section of Philippians, Paul points them toward three important Christ-like characteristics that are vital for us to survive and to thrive.
A. Let’s imagine for a moment that your airplane has gone down in the middle of the ocean.
1. You find yourself floating in a life raft designed for survival.
2. You immediately and frantically search for the survival kit that is usually provided in a life raft, and you are relieved when you find it.
3. The things you most desperately need to survive are in that kit.
4. So, when you open the survival kit, what kinds of things do you expect to find?
a. Do you expect to find a DVD player with a remote?
b. Do you expect to find a bottle of nail polish?
c. Do you expect to find a USB thumbdrive?
d. How about an extra HDMI chord?
5. No, you don’t expect to find those kinds of things; rather, you expect to find things like: water, food, first-aid items, sun screen, and flares.
a. These are thing things that you really need to survive.
b. Without them you will not make it long.
B. In a similar way, we Christians have ended up stranded in a non-Christian ocean called “life in this world below.”
1. Our survival kit is made up of a core of Christ-like characteristics that can be employed and experienced for our good.
2. If we have developed this core of character, then we have a chance not only to survive, but even to thrive.
3. But if we have not developed this core of character, then we are in trouble.
4. The good news is that God wants to help us develop this kind of character that will enable us to survive and thrive during both the best and worst of times.
C. When Paul wrote to the Philippians, he addressed a number of the challenges that they were facing.
1. At this point in the letter, Paul shared with them three, simple elements of character that would guide them to survival in the midst of their challenges.
2. Let’s examine these three characteristics and make sure that we are developing them in our own survival kit.
I. Be Joyful
A. The first Christ-like characteristic that we need to develop to survive and thrive is to “be joyful.”
1. Paul wrote: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Phil. 4:4)
2. The fact that Paul mentions the subject of joy so frequently in this letter (14 times in 4 chapters) suggests that it was a missing characteristic in the Philippian church.
3. Why had they lost their joy?
a. Perhaps the tension in the church family had reduced their joy.
b. Perhaps their concern for Paul in his imprisonment was stealing their joy.
c. Or maybe it was just the everyday struggles of the Christian life that was robbing their joy.
4. But whatever it was that was stealing their joy, Paul told them to make it stop!
a. Paul repeated himself in that short verse for emphasis: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again rejoice!”
B. But let’s note this important observation: Paul commanded them to be joyful!
1. Notice that Paul’s statement was not a suggestion, rather it was a command: “Rejoice in the Lord always!” How’s that for an order?
2. Paul told the Thessalonians the same thing: “Be joyful always” (1 Thess. 5:16) – That is a command as well.
3. So how can you command someone to be joyful always? Isn’t that impossible?
4. What is easy for us to forget in this matter is that no matter our circumstances, we can always rejoice in the Lord.
a. Paul didn’t command them to rejoice in general, but to rejoice in the Lord.
5. Joy, like peace, is not the absence of trouble, but the presence of God.
6. When we have Christ at the deep center of our lives, we can delight in the Lord even on the dark and dreary days, because the joy of the Lord is not dependent on earthly, external things.
7. In that sense, joy is an “inside” job.
8. Our Lord is so good, He has done such great things and has given such wonderful promises, that when we focus on those things they cause us to rejoice and be glad in the Lord.
C. Why is this truth and why is this characteristic so important?
1. Because life is hard. Because Satan is ruthless. And because joy is not automatic.
2. There are many hard things we may have to experience and endure in this life – including things like the death of a loved one, an illness, the loss of a job, family trouble, being robbed, or even being imprisoned – like the apostle Paul.
3. But the way to make it through anything we have to face, is to focus on the Lord and rejoice in Him!