How to be happy… what are the things that make you happy? When do you feel happy? Who makes you happy? How long do you stay happy in these things, times or people that made you happy? Here’s Paul’s secret to happiness even in prison: three words only – IN THE LORD!
Philippians 3:1 Further, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you.
Three treasures in the recipe to happiness:
I. vv.3-10 Not on things of the flesh but on things of eternal value
3 For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh— 4 though I myself have reasons for such confidence.
If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.
7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in[a] Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
Paul said if anyone could boast of status, zeal, righteousness, and worldly citizenship, it would be him. (vv4-6) He was a Pharisee, a Roman citizen, educated and faultless according to the laws. Yet, Paul said these are not things he would boast of – instead it is more important to boast of the righteousness that comes from faith in Jesus Christ. vv. 7-10 It is an honour for him to know Jesus and suffer for Him and with Him for the cause of the gospel. This is Paul’s reason for rejoicing in his sufferings – because in his sufferings, he knew Christ… all other things became worthless.
II) vv. 12-14 Not on the past but on the present and the future.
12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Paul had something to look forward to – a goal. The goal or mission that Jesus gave to him as He took hold of Paul – to spread the good news to the Gentiles. So Paul took hold of Jesus to achieve this goal. He went from strength to strength – from joy to joy. Whatever he achieved, he knew there is more. He said I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
III. vv. 15-21 The right perspective
15 All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained.
17 Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. 18 For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
Our citizenship is in heaven – we are here on earth for just a short period of time. Our earthly journey is transient/temporary. Our desire of the flesh – our appetite, our reputation, our status, these are all subject to deterioration. They do not last. How often do new shoes, new clothes, new bags, trophies, medals, educational attainment, monetary success, fame, popularity bring us momentary or fleeting pleasure! We feel good while the novelty remains… after the gloss or thrill or shiny bling disappears, our pleasure and feeling happy and good evaporates with it.
Looking forward to something good – brings excitement. How often I feel excited about an upcoming trip, a happy event to attend, a project to complete, a degree to attain. These goals and expectations help us to step forward in hope and joy. While it is good to remember mistakes of the past to help us avoid making them again, we cannot be joyful if we kept lingering in the past… when we cannot forgive ourselves, we hold on to anger, regrets, disappointments and moments of bitterness. Neither is it good to hold on to past achievements because we can become complacent. We stop growing and improving. We think we’ve arrived and we become proud. We need to be forward thinking and keep moving forward – to attain the prize for which God called us to – heavenward in Jesus. Our joy is to be set on the “thumbs up” of our God and master of all things.
In the final analysis, living the joyful life in the world filled with imperfections, sufferings and physical decay, is about the heavenly perspective. Our citizenship is in heaven. It is not the US or Canadian passport or the passports that require the least visa to travel. It is not about worldly pleasures – that bring the good feeling to our flesh – because these things do not last. How to find happiness? Look for the things of eternal value. Children of God eagerly await a Savior from the heavenly kingdom, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
Secret to the happy life: rejoice IN the Lord – look forward and look upward.