While JOY isn’t an explicit topic in Philippians, it seems that it permeates much of what the Apostle Paul is saying to these believers. The sheer use of the term JOY (and its variants) shows that a deep, other worldly JOY was a major aspect of his life.
I love the quote from G.K. Chesterton when he said, “The modern philosopher had told me again and again that I was in the right place, and I still felt depressed even in acquiescence. But I had heard that I was in the wrong place, and my soul sang for joy like a bird in spring.” (Orthodoxy).
Deep JOY begins with recognizing that we are in the wrong place, something is terribly “out of whack,” for we are not right with the world and with the God who made the world. JOY — true, deep, biblical JOY — begins with a profound sadness about our sinful condition. That sadness is remedied only by the substitutionary sacrifice of the Son of God for our sins.
Perhaps this is a clue why so few believers experience this kind of life-permeating JOY. The JOY or happiness they have was not preceded by a profound sadness over their sins. The church must recover the biblical doctrine of repentance if it is to faithfully present the gospel to a sin-sick and sad world. We read in 2 Corinthians 7 that “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”
The first use of the term JOY in Philippians occurs in chapter one as Paul begins his epistle: “3 I thank my God every time I remember you. 4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
Do I pray for others “with JOY”? Do you? For whom should you pray today? Choose to pray for that person — with JOY!