Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you.
— Philippians 3:1
As we have walked through the Philippians series over the last several weeks, it’s not lost on me that all of Paul’s writings were created from the floor of his jail cell. I continue to marvel at how much strength it must have taken for Paul to continue to be an encourager when, in fact, he was not in a very encouraging position himself. Over and over, he encouraged those he was writing to find joy and to rejoice in the Lord.
It is also not lost on me that, as Christians in the present day, we are in a similar position as Paul. It’s as if Satan isn’t even bothering to hide anymore. He is out in plain sight, and still, many cannot see him. As Christians, we are called to live a life reflecting Jesus himself. The world should know us by our love. However, I don’t think I have ever in my life felt so persecuted as a Christian as I do in the present day. To clarify, I have not been personally attacked, but I do feel as if Christianity is being lumped on top of everything else when, really, it should not be lumped. Instead, it should be set apart. Those that use Christianity and scripture to further their worldly causes give all of us a bad name and put a proverbial target on all of our backs.
Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh.
— Philippians 3:2
So what are some of the lessons we can take from the floor of Paul’s prison cell and apply to present life to encourage us to always rejoice in the Lord?
First, simply to do just that! Rejoice in the Lord in all things, every day. Paul tells us that he is a bit like a broken record, repeating it over and over. He knew it was a place of safety. Rejoice. Worship the Lord, every day, in all situations.
Second, guard against those that would make you look to worldly things for your worth and satisfaction. Guard against, and never put your confidence in, the flesh. Find your joy in the things of the Lord, for the things of this world will soon enough be very dim in the light of heaven.
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.
— Philippians 3:7–8
Third, consider your accomplishments as loss. This is a hard one for a personality like mine. It is easy for me to sit back and logically realize that my worth is not in my accomplishments, but instead in my relationship with Christ. However, when caught up in the moment, I want to claim the glory for myself at times. In worldly times like the ones we find ourselves in now, we must be clear on who we are IN CHRIST, what we stand for IN CHRIST, and how we want to live our lives IN CHRIST. Paul never tired of reminding us, and we should not tire in giving all honor and glory to God–no matter what the world tells us we should do.
Be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
— Philippians 3:9–11
And finally, we should stand firm on our relationship with Christ. I have a dear friend and mentor who always taught me to remember, “You never see a hearse with a U-Haul behind it.” In other words, we cannot take anything of this world with us when our time comes. But we will take the worth of knowing Jesus as our Lord and Savior. It is the only way into the kingdom of God.
As we go through life, let us never get tired of receiving this message from Paul. I pray that in all things, on all days, in all ways you will find your reason to rejoice in the Lord!