The Search for Joy
Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved. I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord. And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life. Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.
Paul is revealing his deep love and unwavering affection for the Philippian church and uses the term “longed-for,” in reference to the long separation from loved ones he was enduring. Paul did not receive his joy from the circumstances in his life but from the fellow believers in Philippi. The crown mentioned was a laurel wreath that was placed upon the head of an athlete for winning a race, a contest, or for having a fruitful life. The Philippian believers were a spiritual crown to Paul and their fruitful lives were his joy.
The Philippian church was facing persecution and Paul’s desire was for them to stand firm in their faith, unwavering in the message of the Gospel of Christ––cultivating harmony in the church. Paul spoke of two women in the church that had had personal conflicts and urged them to pull together, as two oxen must pull together and not be pulled apart. Paul encouraged these two women to,“be of the same mind in the Lord.” Sometimes, human personalities can introduce hints of disharmony even though a common desire to serve the Lord exists. Christians, with like passions and desires can achieve “the same mind in the Lord,” when human pride and stubbornness is put away and all differences are yielded to the Lord.
“Rejoice in the Lord alway,” could be translated, “Keep on rejoicing in the Lord always.” Paul repeats this: “Again I will say, keep on rejoicing.” He not only wanted them to have joy in the Christian life but experience peace and harmony in the church. Those who have inner peace will have harmony and forbearance with other believers indicating the fruit of the Spirit in their lives. Paul wanted this attitude to be well known, not only among Christians, but “ unto all men.” He encouraged them to let their gentle spirit of contentment be known among others expressing patience, mercy and a prevailing grace towards the faults and failures of others. Paul writes at the end of verse 5, “The Lord is at hand” or the Lord is near, meaning: the Lord surrounds and encompasses all believers with His presence supported by a reminder that the coming of our Lord is “at hand” or “near.” The Apostle Paul had the church’s relationship with the outside world in view and in that respect, he wanted to reveal a work of grace in the hearts and lives of the believers, a work of compassion and forgiveness “unto all men” who fall short of the glory of God.
Thought: Paul’s exhortation to Christians was to, “stand fast in the Lord,” or stand firm, which is often used to describe a soldier standing at his post. We as Christians need to stand unyielding at the post where God has placed us, exhibiting forgiveness, patience and endurance. Much of our Christian service will go unnoticed here on the earth but, be encouraged God takes note, and He will praise in the end. “Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God” (I Corinthians 4:5). He alone sees the inner motives, thoughts and attitudes of the heart and will reward out of an inward devotion to Him. Stand fast in the Lord!