Philippians 1

What is happiness?

  • Happiness is an adjective, a state of gladness and well-being that we all strive to work towards to

How do we become happy?

  • The happiness equation that the world provides generally resolves around two elements:
  • Quality of Life - Expectation of Life = Happiness
    • So we spend the entirety of our lives to improve the quality of our lives, and to adjust our minds to lower the expectations that we carry

The problem with this equation, however, is that life is a variable.  We have no control over the quality of our lives, even though we would like to believe that we do.  This is even more apparent when tragedies and accidents happen - like the coronavirus pandemic.  When we have no control over our life, then we have no control over our happiness (as we understand from the equation).

In light of this tension, it is very confusing to read the book of Philippians.  The book of Philippians is a letter that Paul wrote to the church in Philippi.  

  • This letter is saturated with themes of joy and rejoicing
    • Rejoice is a verb, it means to be glad, be joyful, to celebrate; it implies that happiness or joy is something that we have control over
  • Yet, the letter is written by Paul when he is in prison - he is uncertain whether he will ever be released, or whether he will be executed in prison
  • How does Paul rejoice in this situation?  How does he encourage the church to rejoice?

In Paul’s experience, it is futile to build our joy on how our life is.  But he has built his joy and his life on doing the will of God.  When this is the case, he finds reasons to rejoice, because no matter what happens, God’s will is being accomplished:

  • What has happened to [him] has really served to advance the gospel (1:12)
  • Only that in every way… Christ is proclaimed.  (1:17)
  • Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.  (1:20)
  • For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.  (1:21)

The reason for rejoicing, then, is not because life goes well.  It is because God’s will always wins.  And when one’s life is aligned to God’s will, there is ample reason to rejoice.

  • God’s Will x Our Participation = Rejoice