As both our fall sermon series and our year-long series have begun, I’m reflecting on how both Sabbath and joy relate with one another.
Do you end your day wishing you had accomplished more? Maybe you sometimes wonder what life would be like if you had eight days each week, or 25 hours every day. I often think I would get so much more done if I had more time.
But then I wonder, would our lives be any different with that extra time? Or would we simply fill it with more of what we’re already doing?
In Paul’s letter to the church Philippi, he’s writing in prison, and he’s filled with joy. He goes on to say that he considers every gain in his life as a loss when it’s compared to the surpassing glory of Jesus. For Paul, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
How can one have such clarity of purpose, inner strength, and resolve, regardless of circumstance?
Paul is convinced that God is continually working on him and in the world around him. Paul believes there’s more to the story in life than what he immediately sees around himself. Towards the end of his letter, he reminds the Philippians to set their minds on whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, or admirable. And as we do this, we’ll receive the peace of God, a peace that transcends all understanding.
This is Sabbath. We purposely set our minds on Christ. Instead of striving to be more productive, to earn more money, to accomplish more in the workplace, to get further ahead than our neighbors, to prove our worth to our parents, we pursue Jesus first.
Paul has joy because of who God is and what he’s done. Since Paul is so deeply rooted in this knowledge, he can rest and have peace.
To be honest, the way Paul talks in this letter sounds so intense, so otherworldly. Is it really possible to live like he did?
Instead of answering that for you, I’d like to remind you that God perceives your thoughts from afar, knows when you sit and when you rise, knows all the days written the book of your life, and even aware of all that, endured death, even death on a cross so that you might be saved. There’s nothing that you can do that will make God love you more than he already does.
Rest in that.
Austin D. Hill