There’s so much that I’ve learned from reading the commentary on Philippians and I can’t seem to bring it all together into a post. But I guess what I’ve really been amazed with is how joyful Paul was, even when chained to a Roman soldier night and day. How often do we let the circumstances we are in rob us of our joy? Too much. I don’t think many of us have gone through half the stuff he went through. But yet we let little things get under our skin and make us upset or bitter. We too easily forget all God has done for us.
We as saved sinners have every reason to smile and be overflowing with joy. We were going to Hell, we were stained, we were unwanted; despised. But God loved us so passionately, He sent His only Son to take our place. And with His death and resurrection we have been made pure and all our stains have been washed clean. We don’t have to fear death. We don’t have to fear what the men might do to us. We don’t have to fear tomorrow. We don’t have to fear the day we stand before the judgment throne. Because we have been washed clean! We have had the name of Jesus written on our hearts and engraved in us. God no longer sees a wretched sinner when He looks at us but His Son Jesus. Is not that reason enough to rejoice? What more do we need?
I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. Philippians 1:12-13
Do you think being in prison is a blessing? Most of us would say no. But Paul tells the Philippians that it actually helped to advance the Gospel. God used Paul’s imprisonment to bring more people to himself. It says the whole guard heard the Gospel. I mean think about it. Paul probably told each of the guards he was chained to about Jesus and then they went and told the other guards. What an amazing way to get the Gospel to the Roman soldiers. It was a blessing in disguise. God can use what seems bad for good. So those hard times in your life God can actually use for good, to test you and strengthen you and even bless you. Like my Bible study leader said, ‘How can you be a testimony if you are not tested?’
When I was around 10 I was talking with my friend and her mom was sitting next to us. We were talking about how it annoyed us that our moms or other people would tell us to smile. And I was like, ‘Why smile when there’s nothing to smile about?’ Her mom heard and she wisely said, ‘There’s always something to smile about. Jesus died for you, you’re breathing, you have a family.’ Boy did I feel guilty after that.
So what’s stopping you from being full of joy? If Paul could find joy in imprisonment can’t we find something to be joyful about in our lives?