Thursday, September 20, 2018

Joyful Prisoner

Unjustly imprisoned and far from home, with little hope release, Paul is a man full of joy (Philippians 1:3-8). That is amazing. Who would blame him if here were full of bitterness and anger at the injustice of his situation? But Paul is full of joy is because Paul is full of love. True, Biblical, godly love. The apostle is constrained and motivated by the love of God and this love fills him with great joy. In Paul, we see an unselfish love that results in undiminished joy. A joy that finds itself in the faithfulness of others. A joy found in the faithfulness of God –a compassionate and caring joy in God’s glory in the life of the church.

Every time Paul thought of the Philippians and each time he prayed for them he was filled with joy.  You can tell how much Paul loved these people by how often he prays for them. I wonder if we could say the same for ourselves? How often do you pray for your loved ones? How often do you pray for their spiritual needs? Do you really care for a person if you never pray for them? Paul recognizes all good gifts come from God, especially and including friendship and brotherhood.
Paul is joyful when he prays, not only because his love for the Philippian church, but also because of their love for him. Honestly, it's not a joy to pray for our enemies. It's not a joy to pray for the wayward. The heart breaks when friends separate, loved ones betray us, family members go astray, or disaster strikes (have you ever considered how your unfaithfulness brings sorrow to the heart of those that love you? How many tears are shed in your beloved's prayer closet because of your rebellion?). Certainly we find comfort and peace that leads to joy in those situations, but in our text, Paul's existing joy leads to prayer. It was a pleasant thing to pray for people who loved him and loved the Lord. Perhaps you don't have the joy Paul has because your prayer life consists only of praying for the sick and praying for the wayward. Don't stop doing that. But your faithful friends need prayer. Your faithful parents need prayer. Your faithful pastor needs prayer, and how joyful it is to pray for those walking with Christ! Praise God for the good he is doing in your life.

Paul rejoiced in the fellowship of the gospel, which is a shared belief, or a shared goal in a deep, abiding, shared community. Paul found joy in the friendship of this fellowship of the gospel. The tie that bound them together, was their love for the same Saviour, and the love of telling the good news about him. Because of his love for Christ, his love of the brethren, and the fellowship they had in serving Christ, Paul rejoiced, no matter his situation. Don't base your joy in the world, but find joy in Christ.

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