I Will Rejoice: The Courage To Rejoice (Phil. 1:20,21)

     As we continue to look at why Paul chose to deliberately rejoice, despite his imprisonment, we come to Philippians 1:20, where Paul states: "as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death." In this devotion, you will find three reasons why you can have the courage to rejoice despite the difficulties you may now face. I pray this encourages you.

   Paul made a conscious and deliberate choice to rejoice, even though he was in terrible situation, because he had an "expectation" and a "hope" that would not lead him to being "ashamed". Ashamed of what? Paul was put in prison for preaching his belief concerning Jesus as the Messiah and that Jesus, though nailed to a cross, had been raised from the dead. We call that the resurrection. He believed that though he was in prison for this belief, he expected and hoped that everything he believed in was reality and that in the end, no matter how this situation turned out, it would result in him resurrected with Jesus.

  We can rejoice in our sufferings for the same reason. When we live with hopeful, eager expectation of Jesus' resurrection and His return, we can suffer without shame and choose to rejoice with great confidence, because we know no matter what happens, we will see our Savior in the end. It is when a Christian suffers that non-believers begin to mock and ask, 'if your God really exists, why are you suffering as you are?' 'If He really loves you, why do you have cancer?'  But to those who are hope filled and eagerly expecting this Jesus to return will unashamedly rejoice in the face of such mockery!

  Secondly, it was "courage" that abled Paul to make a conscious and deliberate choice to rejoice. Paul was as human as we are, to say that Paul did not experience some fear is to make him more than human. In fact, I believe that by Paul using the word 'courage' implies some level of fear. Courage is being able to face difficulty or danger or pain, not without fear, but in the presence of it. What caused Paul to have the courage to rejoice despite his imprisonment? It was the eager expectation and hope he had in Jesus. In the same way, when we have the expectation and hope of Christ in our lives, we can courageously choose to rejoice despite our affliction.

  Thirdly, Paul writes "as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death." This is the other thing that gave Paul courage and is the third reason that Paul chose to rejoice. He chose to rejoice because he was confident that Christ would be honored whether he lived or died. His chains were for the exaltation of Jesus. The hunger and dehydration he endured was for Jesus' magnification. The poor hygiene he incurred was for Jesus' glory! Paul's attitude was this: "For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." For Paul, he was in a no lose situation. If he lived, Christ would be magnified, and if he died it was to his profit. This attitude is what gave him the courage to rejoice and it is why we can rejoice too.
 
   I want to leave you with two applications. First, it is the duty of every Christian to honor Christ with how they live. It is the highest calling and purpose to which the follower of Jesus is called as it states in 1 Corinthians 10:31: "whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." But it is not our duty as though it were an obligation, more likely, it is a desire. A desire to live for the glory of Him who is the source of all your hope.

  Secondly, If you are facing a terminal illness as a Christian, or you know of someone who facing a terminal diagnosis as a follower of Christ, you can rejoice in knowing for the follower of Jesus, death is gain. When I lost my grandmother to pancreatic cancer most doctor's would say that she lost her fight. My grandmother was a devout Christian, and I mean devout. She did not lose the fight, she won, and she won because Jesus, the Son of God, rose from the dead taking away the sting of death and destroying death itself. For the believer, death is profitable, it is an advantage and it is gain. 

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