Summary: 8 Concepts towards having joy in your life. This chapter is jam-packed with jewels of verses to encourage you and give you peace in the midst of life’s storms.
I love how Paul can, in a part of the letter that seems like just the "sincerely" section - throw out some absolutely incredible gems!
Work on Earth - Live for Heaven
1 Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends!
Paul just got finished saying to follow His example - not the example of the world, and that we are citizens of heaven and we should look to the day when Jesus transforms our lowly bodies to be like His glorious body.
The first way to have joy is to realize all the destruction and sin and failure around you is temporary.
But what you do for the Lord is NOT temporary!
1 Thessalonians 2:19-20 For what is our hope, our joy , or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? 20 Indeed, you are our glory and joy.
Revelation 4:10 shows us the elders laying down the crowns they have received before the Lamb of God.
What we do for God here on earth will have eternal consequences- and one day all that work will be rewarded. Those whose lives you touched will be your joy and crown - so hang on to that.
Get Along Together
2 I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord. 3 Yes, and I ask you, loyal yokefellow, help these women who have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.
These two women were apparently leaders in the church.
Their disagreement did not apparently involve bad doctrine or sin - but was a personal struggle between them.
Paul says - "be of the same mind" (agree with each other). He urges them to set aside their personal differences for the sake of the work because their disagreement was causing division. (Phil 2:1-4)
Disagreements cause stress and rob us of joy. Most disagreements that don’t involve bad doctrine or sin are the result of selfishness (not putting the needs of the other above our needs (Phil 2:3 - consider others better than yourselves).
These types of disagreements are a distraction from our real mission - the "cause of the gospel" (verse 3).
Paul urges this person "fellow yokefellow" (could be a play on the name Syzygus, which means "co-yoked" to live up to his name and help out.
Sometimes it takes a mature brother or sister to clue us in to what our arguing is really doing - hurting our relationships and the body of Christ while not fulfilling Jesus’ command to focus on the gospel.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
Maybe these two women were unhappy due to circumstances around them. Often our personal struggles are turned into interpersonal squabbles.
"In the Lord" we can rejoice always - because God is always in control and will bring our lives to a successful end. (He who has begun a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ - Phil 1:6).
If we are mired in our circumstances we will not experience joy. I’m not saying you should go around with a fake smile on your face - but deep down in your heart, even when you suffer, know that God is there "working all things together for the good of those that love Him" Romans 8:28
5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.
Again - the dissatisfied are often the least gentle.
Gentleness here is a word that means to not retaliate. Courtesy is another way to translate it.
Take a breath and think before you speak a harsh word - its not enough that we say "I’m gentle on the inside" - it needs to be "evident to all".
Another way to say it: "don’t always demand to be right."
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Don’t be over worried - again, that will rob you of joy.
When you find yourself anxious - force yourself to pray and ask God specifically to intervene in your situation.
Do it with a thankful heart - not a bitter heart. Yes, be honest with God about your feelings - but realize in your prayers all that He has done for you. It seems elementary but prayer is often a last resort - not a first resort.