Joy in Our Relationship with Christ (Philippians 2)

A common misconception is that being a Christian means being protected from any physical harm, any kind of sickness or injury, or from persecution at the hands of those who don';t like what Christianity stands for. Paul wants his readers — his friends in Philippi — to know that this just isn';t the case. He';s in what any right thinking person would consider a negative situation, and yet he constantly and repeatedly speaks positive words, words that convey his joy.

It may be tempting to think of the words joy and happiness as interchangeable — that they mean the same thing. But in the Biblical context, the word joy refers to a deep feeling of contentment and satisfaction that has nothing to do with our present circumstances and everything to do with the fulfillment we have in our relationship with God.

In the first chapter of Paul';s letter to the Philippians, we read that there is joy not just in knowing Christ but also in suffering for Christ. True Christian joy, which emanates from within the person who knows Jesus Christ as his or her Lord and Savior, will always triumph over even the worst suffering.

In the second chapter of this letter, Paul tells us that it is also the fact of our salvation in Christ that gives us joy, even in the worst of times. This means that no matter what happens to us, we can rest assured that we have been welcomed in as one of God';s own children and that we have been marked among those who will spend eternity with Him in heaven.

The second chapter of this letter starts with Paul asking three rhetorical questions: “Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate?” (Philippians 2:1)

Paul wants his readers to see that the obvious answers to all three are a resounding “Yes!” But he goes on in verses 2–5 to show the Philippians how that inner joy should show itself both within the church and to the outside world.

Study Questions

According to Philippians 2:1, what do we as believers receive from Christ, in good times and bad alike?

Read Philippians 2:2–5. What should be the outward, visible effects of a believer';s joy in his or her salvation?

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