Philippians 1:12 – 18 Gospel – Centered Joy
Your priorities will determine what gives you joy and what makes you sad. Many of our joys
lie in in those things God made to be important to us like family and work. But sin is an
opportunist that is always looking to distort things, and this is often revealed in our joys and
our sadness. Because we love things inordinately, in other words we love the wrong things
or in the wrong way or to the wrong extent, we have our joy and sadness in the wrong
things. Because we put our treasure in the wrong place we can become terribly depressed
when our dreams are crushed. Too often we find ourselves incapable of coping with life’s
difficulties because of what we look to for our ultimate satisfaction, and we are crushed
when it is taken away. This is one of the reasons why I have been looking forward to
preaching on Philippians. Here is Paul a man in prison who has suffered more than any of
us will on our lifetimes, yet he is joyful. 2 Cor. 11:23-28, ‘with far greater labors, far more
imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death.
Five times I received at the
hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one.
Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I
was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea;
frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people,
danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger
from false brothers;
in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and
thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.
And, apart from other things, there is the
daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.’ Added to these afflictions is the
fact that Paul is now in prison in Rome unsure whether he will be put to death or not. There
are many reasons for His joy, there is the joy of our salvation; the joy of the hope that is
guaranteed ahead of us; but we see in this section that Paul’s joys are also driven by his
gospel-centered priorities. Too often we do not have these priorities and so we have much
to learn from Paul.