Having a Joy-Filled Life In Troubled Times: Joy Through Humility
Philippians 2:1-3 – Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. (NKJV)
Again we find Paul being contrary to the popular thinking of today. The path to true joy is found in humility and focus on others, not on self. The unity of Christians is cemented through putting others first, being humble and thinking more highly of others than we do ourselves. These are keys to finding joy in all circumstances.
A key to having joy in troubled times is unity through humility.
Just in case we can’t figure out what all that means, Paul gives us for examples to learn from. The first and most important is the example of Christ. In one of the greatest passages in the whole Bible, we find the ultimate example of humility as Jesus Christ willingly took on the form of a servant and became a man, humbling himself even to the point of enduring the humiliating death on the cross (Phil 2:5-8). Because of that:
Philippians 2:9-11 – Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (NKJV)
Jesus is the irrefutable definition of ultimate humility. He willingly lowered himself so that we might have joy through salvation. If Jesus was willing to give up his very privileges as God on our behalf, how much joy should we have in the privilege of humbling ourselves to our fellow brethren and esteeming them higher than our own self?
A key to having joy in troubled times is humbling yourself like Christ for the sake of others.
We also see that humility results in exultation. Christ was exalted for the ultimate act of humility and likewise God will always exalt us for our sacrificial acts of humility (always spiritually, sometimes publicly). When we find ourselves in troubled times, choose to be humble and focus on others, it will always result in God’s blessings and Him exalting us for that choice. There is never any joy to be found in self-seeking pride and likewise God never fails to give us overflowing joy in our submission and humility.
We then see in the next verses calls example of humble submission:
Philippians 2:17-18 – Yes, and if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. For the same reason you also be glad and rejoice with me. (NKJV)
Through Paul’s suffering and imprisonment he was being poured out as a sacrifice for the purpose of being an example for us. He did not regret it or do it grudgingly but to the contrary, was glad and rejoiced in it. He then encourages us to do the same and like him, find joy in it.
We find in verse 12 the “work of salvation” which in context we see as the process of learning to be humble and submissive. This verse is often taken out of context, and is difficult to understand when read superficially. At this point you should see it is clearly talking about the process of living our Christian life (humbly) and in no way means that we work to merit our salvation. Paul goes on to say that this “work of salvation” is to be done without complaining or disputing so that we may be blameless, shining lights in a world that is crooked and perverse. In all of these things we see the clear source of joy, no matter what life throws at us.
A key to having joy in troubled times is pouring yourself out for others so that you may be a light in a dark world.
The example of Jesus Christ and Paul would be more than enough to consume a lifetime of consideration but he goes on to give us the example of Timothy and Epaphroditus us as well. Timothy was Paul’s “son in the faith” and had proven over time that he lived for Christ and not for himself. Paul presents Timothy as an example of humility for us to follow declaring his proven character and his attitude of service for the gospel.
Likewise, Epaphroditus is called “my brother, fellow worker and fellow soldier”, a selfless minister to Paul’s needs. He had come close to death for the cause of Christ with no regard for his own life and so Paul commends him encouraging us to hold such a person in high esteem.
A key to having joy in troubled times is to consider the example of other godly persons.
When we are facing difficult situations in our own life and having trouble finding the joy Christ has promised us, it is helpful to look at the lives and examples presented to us in God’s word such as Paul or Timothy, as well as the lives of faithful Christians that are alive today. It is a great encouragement and motivator to consider the examples of other joyful and steadfast believers who prove to us that the joy filled life is not just a concept but something that each of us can attain.
Lord God, help us to have a joy filled life by not focusing on ourselves, but on others and especially on Jesus. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
- What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
- What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
- What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?