Finding Joy on Life's Journey
The Secret to Experiencing Joy
Is your new year off to a great start? How are you doing on those resolutions? Even if you didn’t make any, you probably at least thought about making some positive life-changes in the new year ahead.
At the beginning of each new year, health, fitness, and wellness tends to be on people’s minds, at least for the first week or two, then we forget about it. What do you think is the key to experiencing long life? Is it wellness and fitness? Some people would make an argument for good genes. Fitness and good genes are nice, and no doubt play a role in a long life, but there is something else even better than either; the answer is joy! This is according to a Harvard Study that began in 1938. And do you know what that study revealed leads to a happy, joy-filled life? Healthy. happy relationships! Maybe that’s where some of our focus should be in the new year ahead.
In his letter to the church at Philippi, it is clear that the Apostle Paul has strong, healthy relationships with both the Lord and with his fellow Believers because he experienced joy, despite his circumstances. In fact, at least 19 times in this short, encouraging epistle, Paul uses the word “joy,” “rejoice,” or “gladness.”
When Paul penned his letter, you might think he was experiencing anything but joy. After all, at the time, he was a Roman prisoner, chained to a Roman guard, awaiting trial where he could be acquitted or beheaded. (Acts 28:30-31). Paul had hoped to be preaching in Rome, sharing the Gospel, evangelizing the city, but instead, he arrived as a prisoner.
Yet, despite the danger and discomfort Paul found himself in, he overflowed with joy. What was his secret? No doubt it had to do with the relationships, the partnership, the fellowship he enjoyed with the Lord and with his fellow Believers, particularly in Philippi; but it also had to do with his mindset, his attitude. In fact, this word “mind” is another word we see again and again in Philippians.
Paul uses the word “mind” ten times in this letter and the word “think” five times. Add to that the word “remember” and Paul references the mind 16 times in this short book. I agree with Pastor and commentator Warren Wiersbe when he says that the secret of Christian joy is found in the way Believers think… our attitude. In other words, outlook determines outcome. Philippians teaches us the mindset that Christ-followers must have to experience joy in a world often filled with heartache, chaos and trouble.
There is a lot in this world that will steal your joy, yet the Apostle Paul had all of these joy thieves wrangled because of his mindset, his attitude, his outlook on life, and we can too! Circumstances, people, possessions and worry can all rob us of joy in life. Have you noticed that?
The Apostle Paul was in terrible circumstances, chained to a Roman guard awaiting a potential death sentence for simply sharing the Gospel. Many people were against him, even some he thought would stand with him. He had little or nothing to his name. He had plenty to worry about if he chose to let his mind go there. Yet, with all this going on in his life, Paul, inspired and directed by the Holy Spirit, pens a letter filled with joy! Joy in spite of circumstances, people, possessions and worry. This is no accident.
What is the secret to experiencing joy on life’s journey, no matter where that journey takes you? For Paul and for us, Joy is found in cultivating the right kind of mind. We’ll see that truth emphasized again and again in Philippians. Having the right mindset, the right attitude, the right focus determines how you approach life and what you experience in this life… outlook determines outcome.
Paul’s mind was zeroed in on what mattered most in this world and beyond. A focal verse in this first chapter and this book is: 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. Philippians 1:21. Everything that Paul did, thought, and felt was based on this mindset. And with that mindset, nothing was able to rob him of his joy; joy that he found in Christ… living for Christ and even dying for Christ. Paul was focused on making an impression and leaving a mark for Jesus Christ in all that he did and said. That is what we aim for at Watermark too!
For much more, including three vital practices that lead to joy stemming from the community we enjoy with fellow Believers found in Philippians 1:1-11, click here to listen to: Joy on the Journey - Part 1 - The Secret to Experiencing Joy.