Summary: Fifth in a series from Philippians dealing with maintaining the right attitude of humility
Paul wrote this letter from a Roman prison along with letters to the Jesus Followers at Ephesus and Colossae known as the “Prison Epistles (letters). By the frequency of reference, the overall theme of his letter seems to be joy. But not just joy, it is joy in the face of the obstacles and struggles of life. I like the theme, “Joy No Matter What”.
Of course there are numerous other themes flowing through this impassioned epistle. Reference to love also appear throughout the letter. Many divide the letter into four main sections in which four clues to maintaining the joy of the Lord emerge. These sections roughly fall along the four chapter divisions found in the English Bible. Chapter divisions were not part of the original writings.
In order to maintain this joy, we must actively consider the following four areas.
I. ADOPT THE RIGHT AXIS -- SUPRERIOR LIFE PERSEPECTIVE
The Exaltation of Jesus in Everything
II. MAINTAIN THE RIGHT ATTITUDE -- SUPERIOR PATTERN OF LIVING
The humble example of Jesus
III. PURSUE THE RIGHT AIM -- SUPERIOR LIFE PURSUIT
The Passionate Pursuit of Jesus
IV. ACQUIRE THE RIGHT ABILITY -- SUPERIOR POWER SOURCE
The strength of Jesus
After a traditional greeting and personalized praise to God for their trust in Christ and petition to God that they would exalt Christ and glorify God through an increase in their love for one another, Paul drew attention to the first key to joy through personal testimony. Paul revealed the axis around which he arranged his life that enabled him to find joy and rejoice no matter what. A study of his life definitely unearths a ton of “joy no matter what” examples.
I. Adopt the right Axis – the superior perspective
The exaltation of Christ in everything.
according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. Philippians 1:20
A. Paul Encouraged a right axis by personal example 1:12-26
B. Paul encouraged unity by pastoral exhortation 1:27-30
After sharing his personal testimony, Paul encouraged his readers to adopt the same axis of exalting Christ in everything.
1. The Mandate #1 – unity against the opposition 27-28
He encouraged them to live a life worthy of the Kingdom to which they had been made citizens.
He encouraged them to unify against the opposition.
The more we focus on the enemies of the kingdom, the less time we have to worry about the insignificant issues that too often divide the citizens of the kingdom.
Remember what happened when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor.
The “Sleeping Tiger” indeed did awaken.
Rebuilding began immediately with a vengeance previously unheard of.
A new group called Seabees increased from 1,100 to 290,000 charged with building or repairing whatever was needed to support our fighting troops.
When the Japanese attacked Pearl they infuriated the United States, and infuriated people can move mountains in moments. We swung into high gear and began producing ships and planes in amazing numbers in astoundingly short lead times, which came as a complete surprise to the Axis, which thought we couldn't recover that quickly, couldn't possibly produce that many, and wouldn't be able to match their level of technology. They also learned to their dismay that we could hit their homelands, while they couldn't hit ours.
Paul called the Philippians to focus on the external enemy not their personal enmity.
I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel… Philippians 1:27
2. Motivation #1 God’s gifts
Paul communicated the motivation for unifying against the enemy.
God granted the faith necessary to become Christ exalting citizens.
God granted the privilege of suffering for the sake of Christ.
Exalting Christ in everything eliminates the need to fuss about anything.
3. Motivation #2 – God’s encouragement & consolation 2:1
Therefore, if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion… Philippians 2:1
Here Paul began another set of mandates with the motivation first. Paul emphasized four realities concerning our relationship with Christ motivating Christ exalting behavior toward each other. I see these as privileges of citizenship in the kingdom of Christ.
If there is any encouragement in Christ (and there most certainly is)
If there is any consolation of love (and there most certainly is)
If there is any fellowship of the Sprit (and there most certainly is)
If there is and affection and compassion (and there most certainly is)
The actual mandate appears after this motivation.
4. Mandate #2 Make my joy complete by your humble unity