Share your Joy
17 But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all. 18 And you too, I urge you, rejoice in the same way and share your joy with me.
19 But I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, so that I also may be encouraged when I learn of your condition. 20 For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare. 21 For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus. 22 But you know of his proven worth that he served with me in the furtherance of the gospel like a child serving his father. 23 Therefore I hope to send him immediately, as soon as I see how things go with me; 24 and I trust in the Lord that I myself also shall be coming shortly. 25 But I thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger and minister to my need; 26 because he was longing for you all and was distressed because you had heard that he was sick. 27 For indeed he was sick to the point of death, but God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. 28 Therefore I have sent him all the more eagerly in order that when you see him again you may rejoice and I may be less concerned about you. 29 Therefore receive him in the Lord with all joy, and hold men like him in high regard; 30 because he came close to death for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was deficient in your service to me.
3 Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things again is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard for you.
First, a little history. Who was Timothy? He was introduced to us in Acts 16:1-5 which says:
And he (Paul) came also to Derbe and to Lystra. And behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek, 2 and he was well spoken of by the brethren who were in Lystra and Iconium. 3 Paul wanted this man to go with him; and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those parts, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. NASB
This was Paul's second missionary journey. He and Barnabus had been to Derbe and Lystra on the first journey. That was actually where they turned and started back along their trail to return to Antioch from which they were first commissioned to go on their missionary journey. So Paul had planted churches in these communities on that first journey. Now he has returned with Silas and they are revisiting these churches when he finds this young man born of a Jewish woman and a Greek father. Paul decides to take him under his wing and so Timothy begins to travel with Paul and Silas.
Timothy would have been with Paul when they arrived in Philippi the first time. You may remember they found Lydia there and she and her household were the first recorded converts in Europe. The church at Philippi would have known Timothy because he was part of Paul's team.
Epaphroditus on the other hand was most likely from the church at Philippi. This church had been sending support to Paul as he continued his ministry of sharing the gospel with other communities. Epaphroditus had come to Paul with a gift of support from his home church. While with Paul he became ill and was at the point of death before recovering.
In verse 17, Paul speaks of Epaphroditus' ministry and his sacrifice for the church at Philippi. He, Paul, was in prison because of his work for the gospel. He was in danger of losing his life for the work he was doing to take the good news of Jesus Christ to everyone, Jews and Gentiles alike. What kind of chance had this young man taken by sharing with Paul in this way? Paul shares his joy about this young man with his friends and family in Philippi and plans to send him back to them shortly.
Philippians has been called the epistle, or the letter, of joy. These verses are not the first in which he mentions joy. In chapter one verse 4 he says he always offers prayers with joy on behalf of his church family in Philippi. Then in verse 18 he speaks about rejoicing. And why was he rejoicing? Because the gospel was being preached, sometimes because of jealousy, and sometimes to honor Christ, but in any case Paul was rejoicing that the message of Jesus Christ was being proclaimed.
Then in the first part of our current chapter Paul asks the Philippians to complete his joy by their continued growth and development in the faith, and in the purpose of living their lives for the sake of the Kingdom of God and not for their own selfish purposes.
Now here in the verses we read this morning, Paul is asking this church that he loves to share his joy and rejoice in the things he rejoices in. The spreading of the gospel of Jesus Christ. As the gospel spreads, the joy will be shared with new disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Timothy is an example of this joy. Paul says that Timothy is of a kindred spirit. He is like minded or thinks like Paul thinks. He is a fellow laborer for the ministry of the church and in the spreading of the gospel.
It is because of Timothy's value to Paul that he wants to send him to the Philippians. He has no one in whom he has more confidence. Paul says “they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus”. But not Timothy. He has been nurtured by Paul himself. Paul had seen the potential in Timothy when he first met him. Now it is his joy to be able to have Timothy share in the work that is dear to Paul's own heart. And Paul wants to share that joy with this church as well.
When Paul spoke of sending Epaphroditus back to Philippi, he asked them to receive him in the Lord with all joy, and to hold men like him in high regard because he came close to death for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete the mission the Philippians had given him when they sent their gift with this brother in the faith.
So, in all this, what is it that gives Paul joy? How will this joy be shared? What was Paul rejoicing about? What did he want the Christians at Philippi to rejoice over and share with Paul? What does God tell us, through this letter, to rejoice about?
It seems to me that in all this, when Paul spoke of joy, it had to do with people. More specifically, it had to do with people who had put their faith in Jesus Christ. Paul rejoiced when he saw people growing in their faith and becoming mature Christians who were bearing fruit for the kingdom of God. Paul rejoiced when people were being brought into the kingdom of God. He was encouraging the Philippians to share in this joy
This is the joy that Paul is asking us to share in.
Where do we find joy? What do we rejoice about?
We sang this morning about our joy. Did you mean it when we sang those words? WE were sharing this joy with Paul today and so we sang...
“I have a song that Jesus gave me, It was sent from heaven above; There never was a sweeter melody, 'Tis a melody of love. In my heart there rings a melody, there rings a melody of love.”
“Come, we that love the Lord, And let our joys be known; Join in a song with sweet accord, and thus surround the throne. Let those refuse to sing who never knew our God; But children of the heavenly King, May speak their joys abroad, But children of the heavenly King, May speak their joys abroad.”
“Salvation's free, glad joy to all Of Adam's fallen race; We'll tell the story far and near Of saving, keeping grace. There's joy, glad joy Now flowing from above; There's joy, glad joy In the fullness of His love. From wells of everlasting joy Our strength by faith we bring; The joy that thrills my ransomed soul Can make the sad heart sing. How blest the soul that's purged as pure As gold without alloy! How peaceful is the flowing stream Of deep eternal joy!
“I'll live for Christ thru this dark world, And faithful I will be;”
Is this your commitment today? Do you mean to live for Christ through whatever darkness this world throws at you? Is this really the commitment you have to the Lord of the Universe? Are you rejoicing and sharing that joy with others?
“The joy I know that keeps my soul Shall last eternally. There's joy, glad joy Now flowing from above; There's joy, glad joy In the fullness of His love.”
Whenever we sing in church, we are sharing with those who have gone before us. We are rejoicing with the song writers over the truths that meant so much to them and that mean so much to us today. Worship is about reminding ourselves, and reminding one another, about the joy that we share in knowing the love of God as expressed in the death of His Son, Jesus, who is the Christ, the Anointed One, the One Chosen By God to deliver His people from their sinful state.
We rebelled against, and rejected the love of God, until we came to that place where we heard Jesus knocking at the door of our heart and by faith we opened the door and let Him come in. By His Holy Spirit we now have eternal fellowship with the God of all Creation.
This is why we rejoice. This is why we love Him. Coming into our place of worship we remind ourselves, and we remind one another of the great love of God. We love Him because we have come to believe that He loved us and He was willing to die to be restored to a proper relationship with us as we live with Him as Lord of our lives.
Worship is simply about sharing the joy that we have in knowing our God loves us. Now we want to share that truth, the truth of God's love, with others. We want to share that love, that joy, with anyone who will listen.
Share the JOY. Share the love of God with one another. Invite others to join you as you worship the One True God who has revealed His great Love to us through the sacrifice of His Only Begotten Son, so that He could adopt us and become our Loving Heavenly Father.
Are you ready to share the JOY of knowing Christ?
In a moment we are going to sing these words: “Rescue the perishing, Care for the dying, Snatch them in pity from sin and the grave; Weep o'er the erring one, Lift up the fallen, Tell them of Jesus, the might to save! . . . Plead with them earnestly, Plead with them gently. He will forgive if they only believe. . . Jesus is merciful, Jesus will save!!!”
This songwriter is inviting us to share the joy as Paul invited us to do so long ago.
Stand and pray with me before we sing and once again commit our lives to sharing our joy.