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Ode to Joy … Joy Busters

Watch out for those dogs, those men who do evil, those mutilators of the flesh Philippians 3:2

Melt the clouds of sin and sadness;
drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness,
fill us with the light of day!
—Henry Van Dyke, Hymn to Joy, 1907

Joy busters—they were everywhere, tap-dancing around Paul’s joy. Paul is under house arrest in Rome (Philippians 1:7) when he writes his letter to Philippi. Not a good spot for a missionary who longs to personally encourage his protégé churches.

Yes, he has the ear of the whole palace guard to whom he is chained—they cannot help but know he is “in chains for Christ” (1:13). And yes, because of his chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly (1:14).

But what about those who preach Christ “out of envy and rivalry” and “selfish ambition”, supposing to stir up trouble for Paul (1:15,17)? That’s okay with Paul, as long as “Christ is preached” (1:18). Why, even death is okayto die is gain” (1:21).

By being with his friends at Philippi again, Paul hopes their “joy in Christ will overflow” (1:26). He is concerned about the joy busters they are experiencing, the many who: live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things (3:18-19). Evidence, Euodia and Syntyche, church ladies at odds with each other (4:2).

Nothing has changed. False teachers abound, post-modern philosophies undermine Christ, church folks argue over trivialities, satan deceives. But our citizenship is in heaven and we eagerly await a Savior from therewho, 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 (3:20-21).

There you have it ladies—joy busters be gone! Christ has this under control.

Nancy P

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