Bible Reading: Philippians (yes...read the whole letter and circle every occurrence of the word 'rejoice' while you're at it)
The whole book of Philippians is tied together by nine reasons or occurrences to rejoice. We can learn from both the things Paul rejoices in while being imprisoned for the gospel, as well as the exhortations he gives to the church in Philippi who were partners and co-workers in the advancement of the gospel. Here are two of those occurances.
1. Rejoice when Christ is proclaimed
"What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice" (Philippians 1:18)
Paul wrote Philippians partly because he had to update his brothers and sisters in the Philippi church about his circumstance. It was most likely that Paul wrote Philippians while being imprisoned in Rome in 62 AD. Being partners in the gospel, the brethren at Philippi would have been worried about Paul and his ministries.
To assure them, Paul writes, "I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel" (Philippians 1:12). He goes on to explain how his imprisonment has allowed for the gentile guards of the prison to know of Christ. Furthermore, fellow Christians have been encouraged and emboldened to stand up for the gospel seeing Paul's persecution. Because Christ's gospel was being spread widely due to his imprisonment, Paul rejoiced.
What causes us to rejoice? Does the advance of the gospel stir our hearts with joy?
2. Rejoice when Christ is honoured in our bodies
"Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance...that with full courage now as always Christ will be honoured in my body" (Philippians 1:18-20)
Is not our natural cause of rejoicing the comfort and safety of our lives? Being put in prison is no cause for joy and we expect deliverance — a return to the comfort of our homes and families. But this was not Paul's perspective. For Paul, joy is found when Christ is honoured through his body. Despite all that happens to him, if the name of Christ is lifted high, he has ample cause to rejoice. His "eager expectation and hope" was that he would not shame his God, instead continue to be a living (or dying) testimony to the glory and goodness of God. Worldly comfort or security had no grasp on Paul.
What is our perspective? Do we rejoice in comforts or in lives consumed as testaments to God's glory?
Lord, teach us to rejoice in the things that please Your heart. Wean us from worldly joys that are shallow and temporary. Help us find true cause for rejoicing as we learn to walk with You. We pray in Jesus' name, amen.