There are so many things in life that will try to steal our joy. Last week, we talked about two of them: Suffering and Detractors. Let’s remember the context:
Suffering – When Paul was writing Philippians, he had already been beaten, arrested, abused, stoned, plotted against, arrested again, ship wrecked, and sent to Roman house arrest – all for the sake of preaching Christ! But he did not let these circumstances steal his joy. His eyes were on Christ the whole time, and he even said, “what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel” (Phil 1:12).
Detractors – There were local pastors in Rome that preached “Christ from envy and rivalry” of Paul. This could have been a discouragement to Paul, but it wasn’t. His mindset? He said, “What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice” (Phil 1:18a). Paul didn’t worry about his opponents; rather, he found joy in that the gospel was going forth.
Today we will look at two more things that will try to steal our joy: The issues of Life and the pains of Death. So many times, we let these two things cause us anxiety and even fear, yet within this passage, Paul clearly states the proper Biblical worldview about both of these issues when he says, “For to me to live is Christ, and die is gain.” (Phil 1:21).
Only a life that has Jesus at the center of it can be a joyful life. When the rich, young ruler encountered this truth in Matthew 19, he went away sad because he loved his possessions more than he loved Jesus. Ultimately, his possessions hindered him from coming to Christ, and he had no joy.
And death? So many people fear death. Yet when we understand that the Divine Warrior, yes even Jesus Christ, defeated death on our behalf, we find that death is actually gain. Christ has conquered this enemy for us, and we do not need to fear. And in this, we can rejoice!
Rev. Adam T. Mumpower, Senior Pastor