Text: Philippians 4:4
Title: Your JQ—Joy Quotient
Theme:Joy is a quality of life that is evident in all circumstances and is to be cultivated and nurtured.
You remember about one month ago, the exuberant joy Houstonians experienced when the Astros headed north to play against the STL Cardinals in the pennant race, first time in 40 years. What a let down when the team lost. Then it was Cardinal’s turn, followed by the Bostonians. Such joy comes and goes.
In recent years there are much talks and discussions on individual’s IQ, EQ, RQ. This morning I want to talk to us about our JQ, Joy Quotient. Last week the speaker asked about your JQ, is there joy in your life? I could almost hear, “Well, if only my work or financial situation is changed, then I will have joy.” “If only I am married, then I will be happy, then I can surely rejoice.” Its like the baseball fans, if we win, we’ll be happy and joyous, if not, we’re miserable.
For the last several months, we have been studying Paul’s letter to the Philippians. This letter is also known as the Letter of Joy. In this letter, the words; joy, rejoice appeared a total of 16x. Paul wrote this letter while he was in a Roman prison. He was waiting for a verdict; freedom or death sentence. This was certainly not a joyous place. Yet in this letter, he shared with the Philippian believers about his joy and he also urged them to rejoice. This joy is not something that comes and goes. It is a quality of life that is evident in all life situations.
As we draw a close to our study of the letter of Philippians, I want to review with you some of the themes that thread through this book. We want to catch a glimpse of what some of the keys to a joyous life are. Even as I preach here this morning, I am keenly aware that I need to be there among you and listen to this message myself.
I. There is joy when we live in Christ.
In 3:12, “12Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.這並不是說我已經得著了，已經完全了，而是竭力追求，好使我可以得著基督耶穌要我得著的.” Please note, Christ Jesus has made me his own. Previously, Paul did not belong to Christ, but on the road to Damascus, Christ appeared to him. From that day on, he was possessed by Christ. It’s like adoption. The child was outside your house, belonging to someone else. Yet, through the act of adoption, this child now belongs to you. He/She moves into your house; lives under your roof and influence. You have made this child your own.
This is what Paul meant by Christ has made Paul his own. Paul now lives in Christ. In this letter, he repeatedly wrote about ‘in Christ’, ‘rejoice in the Lord在主裡大大地喜樂’(4:10), ‘to rejoice in the Lord(要)靠著主喜樂’(3:1,4:4), ‘hope in the Lord靠著主耶穌，希望’ (2:19). When God adopts us into his kingdom, we begin to live in Him. The Holy Spirit comes into our lives and we begin to experience joy because it is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Many have shared that when they first come to know Christ, they were filled with joy and peace. However, this joy needs to be further developed and grow in us. How?
In John 15:10-11, “"If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love." 11"These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. 如果你們遵守我的命令，就必定住在我的愛裡，正像我遵守了我父的命令，住在他的愛裡一樣。 11“我把這些事告訴了你們，好讓我的喜樂存在你們心裡，並且使你們的喜樂滿溢。” To continue to cultivate this fruit of joy, we are to listen and obey Jesus' teaching. We probably remember those days, when knowing we were disobeying God and living in sin, it was miserable. There was neither peace nor joy. In the Hymn: Trust and Obey, “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”
When I am in the Lord, when I listen and obey his teachings, there is joy.
II. There is joy when we are content in life.
4:10-12, “10I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. 11Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.我在主裡大大地喜樂，因為你們現在又再想起我來；其實你們一向都在想念我，只是沒有機會表示。 11我並不是因為缺乏才這樣說：我已經學會了，無論在甚麼情況之下都可以知足。 12我知道怎樣處卑賤，也知道怎樣處富裕；我已經得了祕訣，無論在任何情況之下，或是飽足，或是飢餓，或是富裕，或是缺乏，都可以知足。” Paul rejoiced when he experienced the care that the Philippian believers had shown towards him. Then he also mentioned his contentment in life. He knew how to handle humiliation, poverty and hunger. He also knew how to handle abundance and well being. He was content in all situations and this is the source of joy.
Isn’t it true that when I fail to be content at where I am, it’s difficult to be joyous? We often hear people say, if I had money like Joe, then my life will be filled with joy. If only I am married, then I don’t have to live in such misery. Then there are also those who would say, if only I could get out of this relationship, then I’ll be happy.
Several weeks ago, Jason shared that contentment is like opening your hands. There are different things there: family, career, relationship, hobby, and others. When you have it, you enjoy it and it can bring you great joy. But when it is taken from you, it is ok, also. Yes, there will be sadness, but there can still be joy. The joy from God transcends our circumstances.
How can we learn to be content? I have found this very helpful in my own life. I ask two questions: What is under my control, and what is beyond my control. That which is under my control, I will do my best, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to maintain or bring about changes. I cannot change you, but I can ask for God's help to change myself. I can ask God to help me to develop positive attitudes towards people. For those events, people that are beyond my control, I cast them into God's hands because I know he cares for me. what is the result of this? I will experience God's peace that transcends all circumstances. Not only that, I will also experience the presence of the God of peace. This is the key to contentment in life. When the God of peace is within me, when I experience the peace of God, then my life will not be controlled by anxiety. This is how we can experience joy in life, no matter what circumstance we find ourselves in.
III. There is joy when Christ is being proclaimed.
1:18, “18What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice,…那有甚麼關係呢？真心也好，假意也好，無論怎麼樣，基督總被傳開了，為此我就歡喜；並且我還要歡喜，” Why was Paul rejoicing in that Roman prison? Some of Paul’s enemies were proclaiming Christ, so that the Roman government will increase their maltreatment of Paul. Did that bother Paul? No, not one bit. Paul was rejoicing because the name of Jesus Christ was proclaimed. Yes, different people will have different motive for proclaiming Christ. Some were in it for money, others were for fame and power, and some to cause trouble for Paul. Paul was not bothered by them at all. What was important to him? To Paul, what mattered most was the name of Christ being preached. When Christ was preached, he rejoiced.
Isn’t this a lesson we need to learn? We are to rejoice when the name of Christ is proclaimed in this town. We rejoice when we hear about how the name of Christ is being preached in Israel and Iraq. We rejoice when we learn how the name of Christ is being proclaimed in different parts of China. We rejoice when Christ is preached in Almaty and its neighboring countries and cities. Even though we may not like the messenger or the style, Christ is nevertheless proclaimed. This is a source of joy.
IV. There is joy when we see people through God's eyes.
In light of the problem in the Philippian church, at the beginning of this letter, Paul wrote, 1:4-6, “…..4always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, 5because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. 6And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.每次為你們大家祈求的時候，總是歡歡喜喜地祈求。 5為了你們從頭一天直到現在都在福音的事工上有分，我就感謝我的 神。 6我深信那在你們中間開始了美好工作的，到了基督耶穌的日子，必成全這工作.” Yes, they have their problems, yet he chose to see them as God's handiwork. God had started to work in their lives, God is working in their lives now, and God will complete this work when they see Christ face to face. Like Paul, we are to see each person as God's workmanship. Behind each face here, is a story of God's work in your lives. It is a story about how God has redeemed you; persevered and shaped you via life circumstances to be more like him, reflecting his glory.
When I see you, I also learn to see you as:
1. Individuals growing in Christ.
2:2, “2complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.就應當有同樣的思想，同樣的愛心，要心志相同，思想一致，使我充滿喜樂。” Paul rejoiced when he saw the believers growing in Christ. When they cultivate the mind of Christ among them, being humble, gentle and considerate of others, Paul rejoiced. What was important to Paul was that the believers matured and grew into Christ likeness.
From time to time friends have asked me what some of my greatest rewards in ministry are. I realized that I can choose to look at problems and human weaknesses. If so, then ministry is miserable and painful. However, I have learned to choose to look at individuals from God's perspective. When I see individuals growing in their faith, manifesting the fruit of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, this is my greatest reward. This brings great joy to me.
Yes, it is important that we learn to see how others are growing and maturing in Christ. However, the flip side is also true. Living in this community of believers, we also need to ask ourselves this question: Am I growing in the Lord? Am I more gentle and humble, more like my Lord now than I was 5, 10, 15, 20 or 30 years ago? Is my Christian growth bringing joy to those around me? We also see each other as:
2. Partners in ministry.
4:15, “15And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only.腓立比的弟兄們，你們也知道，在我傳福音的初期，離開馬其頓的時候，除了你們以外，我沒有收過任何教會的供給。” They were his partners from the beginning of his ministry. Paul did not see them in terms of us vs. them, you vs. me mentality. He was not there to get them and they were not there to get him. Instead, together, they were partners in the gospel ministry.
In Chinese, the word ‘co-workers’ has the same pronunciation as attacking each other. In Chinese Christian literature, we often read about how the co-workers in a church end up attacking each other; pastors against the elders and deacons, and deacons and elders against each other; congregation against the leaders and each other, becoming each other’s enemies. No wonder there is no joy in the church, in the ministry, among the pastors and leaders.
Instead we are to see each other as partners. We are partners in this church, in this fellowship, in this small group to labor so that this church, this fellowship, this small group can reach out to others and grow into maturity. When we experience a difference in opinions and convictions, instead of attacking, we learn to sit down and work out our differences. We express our concerns and we listen to each other. We learn to resolve the situation in a win-win manner. We talk to each other with gentleness and humility and we remember to be kind to those who have a difference perspective than us. We are partners to help each other and this Christian community to glorify God in everything we do. We are partners in helping each other and this community to reach our ultimate purpose in life: to become like Christ and to glorify Him.
As we learn to serve the lord as partners, this is the source of our joy.
3. We honor each other.
How did Paul see the Philippian believers? Beside being his partners, they were also his “love, joy and crown親愛的弟兄們，你們就是我的喜樂、我的冠冕。” (4:1). Paul not only viewed the Philippian believers this way, in 1Thessalonians 2:19-20, “19For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? 20For you are our glory and joy. 我們主耶穌再來的時候，我們在他面前的盼望、喜樂或所誇耀的冠冕是甚麼呢？不就是你們嗎？ 20是的，你們就是我們的榮耀，我們的喜樂。” To the Corinthian believers, 2 Corinth 1:14, “14 just as you did partially acknowledge us, that on the day of our Lord Jesus you will boast of us as we will boast of you.正如你們對我們已經有些認識，我盼望你們可以徹底明白：在我們的主耶穌的日子，我們是你們的光榮，你們也是我們的光榮。”
This is how we are to see the brothers and sisters around us. Yes, we are sinners, we have our share of problems, but we also see each other as our love, joy, crown and glory. Its not easy. You see, when we see each other as enemies, you vs. me and us vs. them, there can be no joy in ministry and life. But when we see each other as our love, joy, crown and glory, this is the source of our joy.
When I accomplished my agenda in a meeting; when others agree to my vision, my direction and method, I feel great. I am full of joy. However, when others don’t agree with me, I would be like a balloon with the air let out, feeling sorry for myself, feeling totally defeated and discouraged. And this is not the time to ask me if I have joy in my heart.
To many of us, we see joy as something that happens to us. We are the passive recipients of joy. If we are winners in life, getting what we want, that job, that relationship, that toy, that smart and good looking child, then we’ll be happy. We pursue things that can bring us joy. Therefore, such joy comes and goes with what we have and don’t have.
However, in our study of the scriptures, especially Paul’s letter to the Philippians, it seems to paint a different picture. This joy is a quality of life that transcends life situations. It is a choice I have to make. I have to make a choice to be joyous or happy. It starts with my relationship with God. When I am in Christ, his spirit is also in me. This is the beginning of joy. Then I have to make an effort to further cultivate this joy. I have to choose what is important in life, that is, to see the name of Christ, his gospel being proclaimed. I am to learn to be content in life. I have to see individuals as God's handiwork, partners in God's work and honor one another.
So, what is your JQ. Even more important, are you willing to make an effort, in God's way, to cultivate this joy in life?