Intro: Joy (Heb. שִׂמְחָה pronounced see-m/KHA) is an eternal emotion, because it comes from making a choice to allow Christ to rule in our hearts knowing he will fulfill every promise he has made to us. Joy is an action word that can be experienced in good times, as well as bad times. However, we must make the choice to receive the joy of the Lord.
When we struggle, we need שִׂמְחָה in our lives and we gain it by focusing on the faithfulness and greatness of our Lord. If we do not choose joy and step into the well-being of Christ, we will be tempted to focus on our stressful earthly circumstances which most of the time leave us drained, arguing with others, or complaining. We were created to praise not complain; complaining is harmful behavior because we have been commissioned to reveal Christ in us to the world. Joy keeps us focused on Christ and moving along with the Spirit to develop humble and godly character within us.
In our passage, today, the Apostle Paul urges the early church to be humble, obedient, and filled with the joy of the Lord. It is a tough request, because these Christians in Philippi are experiencing persecution; they are being targeted and they see negative circumstances all around them. Paul knows God’s people need to become more resilient by abiding in the dynamic presence of God’s Spirit. We, too, need to become spiritually strong, so we can withstand the pressures of a sin-filled world. Difficult times abound across the globe, but God is greater and imitating Christ is the race set before each one of us. So, let’s press on and share in the joy of our salvation. Praise the Lord!
Philippians 2:14-18 NLT Imitating Christ’s Humility 14 Do everything without complaining and arguing, 15 so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. 16 Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ’s return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless. 17 But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy. 18 Yes, you should rejoice, and I will share your joy.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for making a way for us as your children to live in your joy. The world’s way is dark, but in Christ you have made us lights for others. Continue to keep us strong and moving forward in the race to reveal Christ the Savior. May your word living in us be a torch helping others to see your love in action. In Jesus’ name. Amen.