Today’s (local and global) economic climate, political climate, and even literal climate have many people worried. Instability in economy threaten people’s livelihood and standard of living. The local and global political climate has created a lot of tension among citizens all over the world. Even literal climate (Southern California drought and global warming) have people worried! It can become easy to look at these headlines that dominate the world news and become discouraged and even sad.
While the pessimist may have a grim view on these matters, there are things in the Christian life that can be a source of joy in the midst of this confusing world. It is true that the Gospel’s reconciling work between God and sinful man is our eternal and ultimate source of joy (cf. Phil 4:4), but have you ever stopped to consider how you might have a positive (or negative) impact on another believer’s happiness?
THE CHARGE: MAKE MY JOY COMPLETE (V. 2)
One biblical and God-honoring source of our joy should be a believer’s relationship with his or her local church. This is expressed in Philippians 2:1-4 where Paul main’s point in these four verses is simple: make my joy complete.
Can you imagine Paul commanding the Philippian saints to make him happy? Dare we say it seems a bit “unchristian” for Paul to ask for others to fulfill his joy. Yet, here we are, reading the very words of Scripture telling us that Paul saw the Philippians as an important factor to a complete or mature joy.
THE CORNERSTONE: GOSPEL TRUTH (V. 1)
The foundation for this joy has to be the gospel. Paul calls them to remember the realities they have in the gospel message (2:1). The Philippians have encouragement in Christ, they have consolation of love, they have the fellowship of the Spirit, and they have affection and compassion. All such possessions are there’s in the gospel message and because God has displayed these virtues in their individual lives, they can turn and display these virtues in their fellowship with others.
THE CALL: GOSPEL UNITY (V. 2)
Paul’s joy is directly tied to the unity of the saints, by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose (v. 2). He elaborates and defines his joy as requiring unity. He calls for the Philippian church to live in unity with one another. Christians need to walk in legitimate unison with one another in order to add to one another’s joy. They ought to think and act the same way. They ought to love as God loves. They ought to function as one spirit and remain fixated on the goal. This is not a superficial unity, but one that is deeply rooted in both theological conviction and practice.
THE CHARACTER: TRUE HUMILITY (VV. 3-4)
The way that unity is achieved in the church is through the practice of genuine humility (vv. 3-4). If joy is the destination and unity is the pathway, then humility is the vehicle that moves the saint toward Christian joy.
In Philippians 2:3-4 Paul explains true humility by offering positive and negative descriptions of true humility. Negatively, humility is NOT selfishness or empty conceit. Living in selfishness and empty conceit means that a person only involves himself in scenarios that result in their self-benefit or self-exaltation. Humility is also NOT looking out for your own personal interests.
Positively, true humility regards [thinks/considers] one another as more important than yourselves. This virtue is practiced to everyone. There is no one in the church that the humble person considers more important. These individuals look out for the interests of others. The truly humble take upon themselves the concerns of others people as if they are his own. Christians ought to look out for or be intently focused on studying and tending to the needs of others. This is a manifestation of true humility.
I’m not entirely sure where you’re at in your Christian faith. Perhaps you may not be as “happy” a Christian as you’d like. If that is the case, then perhaps the missing element is commitment and contribution to a local church as a healthy church member.