Anyone looking to be Unhappy?
According to this prescription, it appears to revolve around living for myself.
Who wants a Prescription for Unhappiness when you can have a Prescription for Joy? Paul tells us all about it in Philippians 4.
Joy is way ahead of Unhappiness. Some people might inadvertently be making the choices shown here but definitely don't want the results.
Do you know anyone who's goal in life is to be unhappy? I don't!
Joy is even better than Happiness because happiness is an emotion. Happiness is dependent upon outward circumstances. If everything is going great, we can be happy. But if they're not, we're not.
Joy, however, is the presence of Jesus in our lives. He is the Joy giver. If we have Jesus, we can have Joy, no matter what our circumstances are.
So what does Paul instruct us to do in Philippians 4:2-9?
1. Bless Others (v2-3).
It's all about Unity and Reconciliation.
The truth is: Even good Christians can disagree. There are good Christians who have a hard time getting along with one another. I know because I have met a few of them!
Personality conflicts can show up any time and anywhere. In Acts 15:36-41, for example, we learn that even Paul and Barnabas had a disagreement. The dispute was so sharp that they went their separate ways. (Thankfully, they later reconciled and their relationship was restored.)
The same thing is happening in the Philippian church and Paul pleads with the contenders to reconcile and come back into unity. He urges loyal Syzygus (yoke fellow) to help them and be their mediator.
Our spiritual enemy loves to spread disunity and division, but we must resist him. Any time there is disunity in the Body of Christ, it is a victory for the Devil and no one else! So bless others and guard that unity.
2. Rejoice in the Lord Always (v4-5).
Paul is writing this letter from prison. How could he have joy himself, let alone instruct others to rejoice in the Lord always?
Even in prison, Paul found reason to rejoice because he knew God is in Control. Bad things will happen but God is still on the throne.
Paul also knew that some One greater is coming again. Christ’s return was not a theory to Paul but reality. Jesus not only redeems ruined sinners but He also redeems our hurts and pains and disappointments. And He is coming again to make all things new!
Paul also knew that the heartbreaking and hopelessly tragic situations of our lives are temporary. All the bad stuff and junk we face, no matter how overwhelming, is momentary. There is hope because of the Empty Tomb. We are people of the Resurrection!
Yes, we still have troubles. There will still be natural disasters, bills to pay, marriages to mend, money to earn, and more. There was never a promise that things would get easy following Jesus.
But we have great reason to rejoice. God in control, evil will be vanquished, troubles will end and we will reign with Jesus for ever and ever!
3. Give Thanks (v6-7).
Worry is a hard job; it takes lots of work. It is tiring and will wear you out!
Our word Anxious comes from a root word that gives the idea of being pulled in different directions.
Our hope and trust in Christ pulls us in one direction. And our doubt and fears pull us in the opposite direction.
What's the result? We feel like we are being pulled apart!
We can worry ourselves sick, literally: Ulcers, headaches, neck pains. Ouch!
Does worry ever accomplish anything? It must help because, as it's been said, "Most of the things I worry about don’t even happen!”
Paul instructs us instead to "be anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."
Thanksgiving then becomes an Act of Faith. When we give thanks, we are entrusting our needs into the hands of our loving, caring Father.
We are thanking God in advance for what He is going to do and the result is peace (v7).
Paul tells us "the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Paul was writing from prison, plus he was jailed during his first visit to Philippi, so he was very familiar with what a guard does. Instead of worrying, fretting, and being anxious, Paul promises that the peace of God will guard us, keep us safe and secure.
4. Think Right (v8-9).
What we think about will affect our lives.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, the great American poet, put it this way: "Sow a thought and you reap an action. Sow an action and you reap a habit. Sow a habit and you reap a character. Sow a character and you reap a destiny."
Wow! A single thought might seem insignificant, but it can change your destiny.
Are you familiar with the term, GIGO? It is a computer science acronym that implies bad input will result in bad output: Garbage In, Garbage Out. What you input, you will certainly output.
Proverb 23:7 declares: "As a man thinks in his heart, so is he." So the question we need to ask is: "Am I programming my mind with what God wants? Am I filling my mind with that which will draw me closer to Jesus, not away from Him?
Paul instructs us to focus on godly virtues, the things that will lift us up (v8).
Paul instructs us in Colossians 3:1, "Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God."
Don't fill your mind with spiritual junk food, things and thoughts that won't matter for eternity, let alone for now. Instead, meditate on the goodness and greatness of the Lord. Read the Bible and reflect often upon it. Let it fill your heart and revolutionize your mind. What a difference it can make in your life, both now and in the future!
As you focus on these four principles and put them into practice in your life, you can live in Joy. No matter what comes your way, you can Rejoice in the Lord Always!