Better Than Happiness
Imprisoned in Rome and chained to a guard day in and day out, the apostle Paul faced an uncertain future. He didn’t know whether he would be acquitted or beheaded. Yet Paul was able to rejoice amid those circumstances.
We see this theme throughout Paul’s letter to the believers at Philippi. Nineteen times in four chapters, Paul mentioned joy, rejoicing, or gladness. For instance, when he thought of the Philippian believers, it brought a smile to his face. He wrote, "Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy" (Philippians 1:3–4).
When he encouraged them to walk together, he became joyful just thinking about it. He told them, "Make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose" (Philippians 2:2).
When he mentioned he was sending Epaphroditus to them, he urged them to receive him joyfully: "I am all the more anxious to send him back to you, for I know you will be glad to see him, and then I will not be so worried about you. Welcome him with Christian love and with great joy . . ." (Philippians 2:28–29).
Even when Paul thought about his potential death, he was still full of joy. In verse 21 of Philippians 1 he said, "For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better."
Then Paul got down to the bottom line of it all when he said in chapter 4, verse 4, "Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!"
Despite his imprisonment, Paul wrote a letter to the saints at Philippi that resonated with joy. And joy is better than happiness.