Continuing our series 'Finding Joy' we continued looking at the book of Philippians starting at Philippians 1:20 through to chapter 2:4. The passage starts with Paul talking about his immediate situation. He doesn’t know what his future holds, he is facing either release or death. Release will mean he can continue to serve Christ on earth, death means his earthly ministry will be finished, and he will be in the presence of his Lord. He writes in Philippians 1:20–21 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
In these two verses we can see the whole purpose of Paul’s life summed up. In everything his one desire is that Christ is exalted. Paul knows that death will mean greater joy as he will be with his Saviour and so he desires that. Yet he wants to do what God desires for him. Joy in the Christian life comes from serving Christ and for Paul this was by doing what God had called him to do, to serve the people God had put before him. Paul knows that the Philippian church needs him, that God has equipped and appointed him to serve them. He places their needs above his. He lays down his life, not by losing it, but by living for others so that they may grow and be joyful.
Paul calls the Philippian church to do their part. He points them to the citizenship they have in God’s kingdom. We don’t live in the fullness of God’s kingdom while we are on earth but we are to live and act with the reality of it. In all we do we need to make sure that we are representing that kingdom in a way that causes others to desire to become part of it. We are to live in a way that upholds the authority and glory of it.
Paul then calls the Philippian church to be united. Their unity comes from being united in Christ, from having the same purpose, to see Jesus exalted and others come to know Him. This happens as Christians together do as Paul instructs in Philippians 2:3-4 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. We are called to serve others and we can only do this as we connect with them and are willing to sacrifice for their sake. This leads to joy as we exalt Jesus together no matter what the circumstances are.