SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- In the first line of this chapter Paul tells his readers to “rejoice in the Lord”. He’s telling them to find joy in Jesus. When we choose to follow Jesus then this becomes natural because Jesus took our place on the cross... and that changes everything. Whether we just got baptized or have been following Jesus for years, His love and sacrifice for us should be a consistent source of joy.
- Right after talking about joy, Paul launches into a warning. He tells the Philippians to “watch out” for those “mutilators of the flesh.” He’s talking about a group of Jewish Christians who taught that in order to follow Jesus you must first get circumcised and then follow the Jewish law. This is a great threat to genuine faith in Jesus. In fact, Paul wrote (the bible book of) Galatians to address this issue.
- Paul tells us (verse 20) that our true citizenship is in heaven. Therefore our minds should be focused on heavenly things, like Jesus and who He wants us to be.
- The Bible teaches us that Jesus is going to come again, this time not to live amongst us and die for our sins, but to bring the world as we know it to an end, and usher in a new time. We read here (verse 20) that we should be eagerly awaiting Jesus' return.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
- Our joy should be in Jesus.
- Seeking any kind of “credentials” to get us favor with God is a waste of time and actually counter-productive. Instead we should imitate Paul, who “considers everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” The idea is that rather than trying to be good enough for God, we should see to know, love and have our faith in Jesus, who was good enough for us.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- What in your life brings you joy? Where is Jesus in the mix of those things? What do you think rejoicing in the Lord looks like? What things suffocate your joy? What things stoke your joy in Jesus? Make a habit of focusing on Jesus and doing more of the things that make you joyful about Him.
- When you do good things for God, do you feel like you're earning something from Him? If you bad things, do you feel like it threatens His love for you or your relationship with Him? If you have put your faith in Jesus, your standing with God is based on Jesus' resume, not yours'. Be thankful for that, and do good to show your gratitude.