Many people think that the church at Philippi was a joyful group of believers because of the many times Paul talks about the subject in his short letter to the church. However, some have pointed out that it is more likely that Paul wrote so much about joy because the people weren’t showing much of this fruit of the Spirit in their lives. Think about it; you don’t instruct a child to sit down and be quiet if he is already doing that! In the same way, it seems likely that Paul talks so much about joy because he wants the people to experience more of the fullness of Christian life.
The Philippians, like any church, had their share of troubles. The missionary they supported had been thrown into jail (1:13). Some people had the wrong motive behind their message of Christ (1:15-17). The members needed to be warned about complaining and arguing (2:14). False teachers threatened to invade their congregation (3:2-3). A couple of ladies in the church had such a major disagreement that Paul felt it necessary to address the situation in a letter that was to be read in public (4:2).
In addition to the problems that were recorded, the people at Philippi no doubt experienced the same difficulties that Christians everywhere must endure—sickness, death of a loved one, financial struggles, family problems, etc.
Yet in spite of all these difficulties, the believers were encouraged to live joyfully. 4:4 is a well-known verse—“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” It is a shame that we so often need someone to say it again. We have so much to be thankful for in Jesus! Let’s make a conscious effort to put aside whatever threatens to rob us of our joy, and let’s live joyfully today.