Paul’s Pride and Joy
Read Philippians 4:1 (ESV)
Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and my crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.
What are you striving for? What would you consider to be your “crowning achievement?”
This summer, the delayed 2020 Olympic games will finally commence! After putting their dreams on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic, thousands of athletes from across the world will finally be able to meet in Japan to compete for Olympic gold. After dedicating significant portions of their lives to training, medaling in the Olympics would be a defining moment in the lives of these athletes. Many would consider it their “crowning achievement.”
In today’s verse, Paul expressed that while he was in prison, he missed his beloved church family. He had a deep affection for the Philippians. Just as a proud parent would refer to their children as their “pride and joy,” Paul used the phrase “my joy and my crown” to describe his brothers and sisters in Christ at the church in Philippi. Despite difficult circumstances, they brought him great joy and he longed to see them again.
He used the term “crown” to compare them with a laurel wreath which was awarded to winning athletes in the ancient Olympic games and other ancient athletic competitions. He considered the Philippian church to be his “victor’s crown.” Paul had dedicated his life to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and establishing His church. The faithfulness and steadfastness of the Philippian believers were evidence that Paul had been successful in his God-given mission. So he urged them to continue to stand firm and not compromise their faith.
Paul’s greatest source of joy wasn’t in his earthly accomplishments. It was in the lives of those he had spiritually invested in. It was gratifying to see the fruits of that labor. The apostle John echoed this sentiment in 3 John 1:4: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” John wasn’t talking about his physical children. He was talking about his spiritual children—those he had discipled and raised in the faith. Nothing brought him more joy than to learn that they hadn’t departed from the truth that he had taught.
Friends, this world offers many things to strive after. But the recognition and awards of man will fade away and tarnish. Literal laurel wreaths wither up and die. Olympic records were made to be broken. But when we invest in the spiritual lives of others, we get to be a part of something that is eternal. Are you discipling someone? If not, is there someone you can invest in spiritually? Trust me, when you see someone you’ve poured your life into standing firm in the Lord, there is no greater joy!
Lord, thank You for the people You’ve given me who have spiritually invested in my life. I want to do the same for others. Show me who I can disciple and give me wisdom as I do so. Amen.
~ Pastor Nat Crawford
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