The joy of the Lord
We rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us. We put no confidence in human effort, though I could have confidence in my own effort if anyone could. Indeed, if others have reason for confidence in their own efforts, I have even more...a member of the tribe of Benjamin—a real Hebrew if there ever was one! I was a member of the Pharisees, who demand the strictest obedience to the Jewish law. I was so zealous that I harshly persecuted the church. And as for righteousness, I obeyed the law without fault. I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. Philippians 3:3-9
In each of the four chapters of Paul’s letter to Philippi, the word “joy” or “rejoice” early in the chapter (Philippians 1:4; 2:2; 3:1; 4:1) were mentioned. Here in chapter 3, Paul begins the third series of admonitions: “Rejoice in the Lord” (Philippians 3:1). In chapter 1, he described a joy that sustains in times of suffering. In chapter 2, he described a joy that is accompanied by faithful service. Now he turns to a joy that is gained in persevering faith. What Paul is conveying in this theme of joy or rejoice is to help believers see the breadth and depth of this joy because of our relationship with God. In spite of suffering, being alone in the prison cell, and facing the possibility of execution, he can continue to say, “Rejoice.” He is able to rejoice in whatever circumstances he is facing because he relies “on what Christ Jesus has done” (v. 3). He is not resting upon his accomplishments and qualifications. He is not insisting upon the custom and tradition of his former religious conviction. “I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done” (v. 7). Real joy comes through a relationship with Christ and by having faith in Him alone. He never says, however, that his zealousness to his former spiritual adherence ever brought him joy. In spite of the fact that he finds his zealousness obeying “the law without fault and once thought these things were valuable” yet, he realized it was not an unqualified righteousness. It was rather self- righteousness and not the righteousness that is through faith in Jesus Christ (v. 9). All he accomplished were “discarded...counting it all as garbage, so that he [I] could gain Christ and become one with him” (v. 8).