Author: Ron Graham
—A study in Philippians
There is nothing better that you could say about yourself than to say, "It is well with my soul!" That spiritual wellbeing is found in Jesus Christ. This is the theme of Philippians.
In this lesson we are going to sketch an outline of Philippians, marking the various elements of joy in Jesus —"joy" being the shorter term for spiritual wellbeing.
The Eight Elements of Joy in Jesus
- A United Purpose —Our common purpose is "the glory and praise of God", and we make each others joy complete by being united together rather than being untied (Philippians 1:11, 2:2). We become true companions labouring together (Philippians 4:3).
- Strong Spiritual Growth —God wants us to have "Progress and joy" in spiritual development, in things which the human eye does not always perceive and appreciate, for they are seen with the eye of faith (Philippians 1:25). "He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Christ" (Philippians 1:6, cf 3:12,15). "Holding fast the word of life... stand fast in the Lord" (Philippians 2:16, 4:1).
- Praiseworthy Conduct — "Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ" (Philippians 1:27). "Join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern" (Philippians 3:17, 4:9). "Become blameless and harmless, children of God in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world" (Philippians 2:14).
- Generous Sharing — "No church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only" (Philippians 4:15). The spirit of generous sharing is the spirit of sacrifice, the spirit of the crucified Christ. "He emptied himself and took the form of a servant... became obedient to the point of death" (Philippians 2:7).
- A Humble Attitude — "Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others as better than themselves... Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 2:3-5). Seeing oneself as a needed instrument serving others’ good allows both humility and high self-esteem. A humble attitude includes thankfulness (Philippians 1:3-4).
- An Eager Hope — "Our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ" (Philippians 3:20). "According to my earnest expectation and hope... for me to live is Christ and to die is gain" (Philippians 1:20).
- A Christ-like Love — "God is my witness, how greatly I long for you all with the affection of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:8). Paul prays, "That your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment" (Philippians 1:9). Paul speaks of "the comfort of love... affection and mercy" (Philippians 2:1).
- Self-confidence in Christ —Paul said, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13). He claimed to "have no confidence in the flesh" (Philippians 3:3). He also expressed this confidence when he said, "My God shall supply all your need according to the riches of his glory by Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19). You will find many more expressions of Christ-based confidence in Paul's letter.
There are three threads that run through the eight elements of joy: ATTITUDE, ACTION, and ACHIEVEMENT.