Philippians 1:4 “In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel…”
We don’t feel joy every moment of every day, but the fundamental reason to have it never goes away. Paul says that he prayed with joy, in spite of the problems, because of his partnership in the gospel with these Christians in Philippi. We can break that reason into two parts.
First, they had a partnership in the gospel. The message of the gospel, the good news it promises, doesn’t change. For the believer, who is always saved, always forgiven, always loved, always God’s child, always a citizen of heaven, always having everything work for his good, there is always a reason for joy. This is true even in the most difficult situations.
Some loved one dies unexpectedly and too early. But we know the believer is in heaven. We know God will not forsake us now. We may be ill, without a job, struggling to survive, living in the stress and strain of bad relationships. But God does not change, his promises do not fail, and all the treasure he has given us does not diminish. We still have reason for joy.
You see, the same message we share and distribute never stops applying to us. Every time we tell the story, we get to be refreshed in its promises to us. The more we focus on the gospel, the more we are filled with confidence that our sins are forgiven, our guilt is lifted, our future is secure, and our current circumstances must be serving us. The gospel never ceases to be a source of joy.
Second, Paul prayed with joy because of their partnership in the gospel. God has not left us alone to spread the faith. Our Christian mission is not a solo project. He has united us to others who share our faith and mission.
For just about any interest you might have, you know that it is more enjoyable when you can share it with someone. Maybe you like reading. Reading a book is something we generally do alone. It’s often better if you don’t have distractions. But if you liked the book, you get more enjoyment out of it if you can find someone else who shares your interest. You want to discuss it and promote it.
Our gospel partnership is more than just a hobby. In the gospel we have discovered the meaning of life. It is the secret to a life that never ends. In the gospel we have discovered life itself. The greater the number of people who share our faith and join our cause, the greater our joy. Because we have been given each other as partners in this great good news, we have reason to pray with joy.