If I were to tell you I had a letter from a man in prison, who had not committed the crime he was imprisoned for, who had been mistreated and abused, who had no wife or children to comfort him, who just found out that people he should have been able to count on were slandering him, and that he might soon be executed – how do you think that letter would sound? Depressed? Angry? Bitter?
That prisoner is the apostle Paul, and the letter is the one he sent to the church to Philippi, which we now call Philippians – and it is a letter full of joy. He continually talks about rejoicing throughout the letter. How is that possible?
Paul had his eyes on what was eternal. He was not short sighted. He was focused on what was eternal. Anything that is a problem in this life – even being executed – is in the end just a temporary problem. The joy of heaven, on the other hand, is eternal. He looked at life with the proper perspective, as he stated in Phil. chapter 3…
But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ. … Not that I have already lobtained this or mam already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: nforgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for othe prize of the upward pcall of God in Christ Jesus.
He looked that the things which were eternal. The things that are truly true, pure, lovely, worthy of praise. He thought on these things, as he encouraged us to do in Phil. 4:8. And when you are looking at that, anything on this earth is temporary – and that puts all our problems in perspective.
I think this is such a beautiful book. I’ve had Philippians on my mind lately, especially because of the upcoming Philippians Bible study. I’d encourage you to read Philippians and think about the things Paul says. And if you’d like to discuss it together, I am always up for that! Just let me know. :)
What passages do you find particularly encouraging?