This Saturday, I concluded my look at Philippians by looking at the the guarantee that wraps up this letter. When you are told that reprioritizing your life is essential to your happiness, it is good to have a promise to hold onto.
I went back over the theme of Philippians: understanding what does and what doesn’t bring happiness. Paul dismisses acquisition of power, hording of wealth, pleasantness of circumstance, genetic belonging, religious orthodoxy, pious behavior, people-pleasing and comparison-charting as means to experiencing true happiness.
What brought Paul joy was understanding the God whom Jesus revealed and being reconciled to God through him. And what gave joyful purpose and direction to the rest of Paul’s life was to attempt to live out the life that Jesus lived when he was on this earth. Paul’s joy was seeing God’s compassionate and reconciling kingdom continue to expand through his work and that of others. Paul’s joy was anchored in his standing with God and his solidarity in working with Jesus.
So in light of this truth, the Philippian letter calls us to a reprioritization of our lifestyle to one that pursues this happiness. Pursuit of wealth needs to stop. Pursuit of fame, respect and popularity must cease. The relentless chasing after pleasure and lack of problems needs to be given up. It’s time to know Jesus–to fellowship in his sufferings and rise to the new life he gives us now.
As you seek to move to this way of life that calls for such a radical reprioritazation, Paul leaves us with two verses that speaks to God’s promise to take care of us:
4.13–“I can do all things through him who gives me strength”
4.20–“My God will supply all your needs through his glorious riches in Christ Jesus”
These verses hearken back to Jesus’ words during his “Sermon on the Mount” (documented in Matthew 5-7) where he says, “Seek my Father’s kingdom first and all these things [food, clothing, shelter, love, pleasure] will be given to you as well.”
May you experience greater and greater happiness as you adjust your life to be more and more attuned to the love of God and the life of following Jesus.