Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown,
stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.
Paul’s letter to the Philippians is a gift. Through this letter God provided the saints in first century Philippi with wisdom, perspective, encouragement, and so much more. In turn, millions of readers since have been similarly blessed, as God continues to use His Word to shape and to embolden His saints toward His ultimate aim, which is to bring glory to Himself.
Paul’s final salutation to the Philippians at the outset of chapter four provides an excellent summary of three major themes in his letter. First, Paul’s deep affection for his friends in Philippi is evident throughout his letter. Here he refers to them as “brothers” whom he “loves and longs for,” his “joy and crown,” and also his “beloved.” These are terms of a powerful sense of appreciation and admiration Paul displays in his writing. Paul prays for the Philippians, compliments them, thanks them, and continuously offers encouragement to them. The church in Philippi would likely have been moved to tears and motivated to serve because of the fond words they received from Paul.
Second, it’s noteworthy that Paul calls them his “joy.” This is a huge theme in Paul’s letter. Seventeen times he uses the word “joy” or “rejoice” to describe both the current state of his heart and his hope for his readers. He tells them that they bring him joy, that he “rejoices” in them, and then he urges them to live lives of joy regardless of the circumstances they face.
Finally, Paul exhorts his audience to “stand firm” in the Lord. Again, this is a consistent charge Paul gives, that they ought to persevere and live lives that are befitting of the eternal future God secured for them in Jesus Christ. Paul uses words like “strive,” “press on,” “work out,” and then “stand firm.” Knowing that the circumstances of his readers were difficult, and were probably about to get worse, Paul asks them to resist the urge to give up, and instead put full effort into a manner of life that honors God.
It is this same challenge I leave you with today, through the timeless themes in Paul’s letter. As Pastors, we love you very dearly, we pray for you regularly, and we rejoice in your faith. Our hope is that through the power and wisdom of God’s Word each of you would develop an eternal perspective that informs your life. Continue to find Him, not only in the pages of Philippians, but in the rest of the Bible as well. We pray that you would find joy in your pain as well as in your blessings. We urge you to let your manner of life be worthy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, so that through your efforts God would be glorified and many would be brought to faith.
Brothers and sisters, who we love and long for, you are our joy and crown. Therefore, stand firm in the Lord, to the glory of God and of Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.
Pastor James Granger