Finding Joy in Something Bigger than Me

by Tim Shorey


Philippians 1:12-18

We experience life’s greatest joys when we share in its greatest realities. In our text we see 4 secrets to unquenchable joy

1. Joy comes from being a part of something bigger than ourselves v18

The source of his joy was something bigger than him—the gospel advance of the kingdom of God!

And his joy was great because his cause was great!

No prison or trial or possible death sentence or petty rivalry or the sinful selfish ways of others could quench the joy of his heart—it was way too big.

He was involved in and lost in something way bigger than he was—and so his joy was immense and unquenchable.

Friends, I think there is a pretty significant JOY-CRISIS going on among Christians today

(1)  Live life IN Christ

Philippians 4:4—“Rejoice IN the Lord always and again I will say, REJOICE!”

Rejoice in what it means to be in union with Jesus!

(2) Live life outside ourselves

The faith of too many is (in Os Guiness’s words) about “God servicing us, not us serving God!”

Life is simply happier if we live it outside ourselves!

The most miserable people on earth are the ones who can’t get themselves off themselves! They are totally self-absorbed!

Lose yourself in something bigger than yourself and you find joy!

If that is true at even a basic level—if joy comes in being part of something bigger than ourselves—than how might maximum joy come?

How might we receive the greatest joy possible?

By being a part of the biggest thing going!!

The gospel advance of the kingdom of Jesus Christ!

Knowing God and helping others to know him too!!


2. What we are a part of is a partnership vs 3-7

Notice the gratitude and joy language!  Partnership made Paul happy!

Philippians is full of partnership and cooperation words and phrases

—ALL these point to Paul’s awareness that what we are a part of is a partnership! —and he wants US to share in it (Philippians 1:27)

The principle is clear in Scripture that Christians are always to be engaged in the mission in PARTNERSHIP with others—in a local church, under church leadership, alongside of other believers, in teams, side by side—AND in partnership and fellowship with other churches!

There are not to be any lone ranger Christians or even lone ranger churches…

The way of Christ is partnership in and through the local church—and through families and unions of churches…

And how blessed are such partnerships—EVEN if they are sometimes challenging!


3.  What we are a part of is more important than the part we play

Paul cared a lot more about what he was a part of than he did about the part he played

I’m not reading this into it—think about it!  What part was Paul playing at this time—by and large?

He had the part of prisoner.

He had the part of victim: people were taking advantage of his hardship.

He had the part of potential martyr!

For all he knew his best ministry days were over—and now it was prison time; serving where the lights were dim and few noticed.

Lots of others were getting the more noticed parts, the parts that people would be drawn to!

But Paul was not at all about making sure he got all the right and good parts for personal gain or ambition.

He cared about one thing: the advance of the gospel!

 Brothers and sisters: it’s NOT the position or the role or the prestige that matters…

…it’s the KING and his cause!  (Matthew 10:41-42)


4.  Jesus took the humblest part that we might have a part in gospel joy (Phil 2:3-8)

Jesus is our sacrifice and Jesus is our example

Jesus does ask us to lay life down for the gospel, but he does not ask us to do anything that He has not already done Himself

ALL this that we might have a part in it all!

We experience life’s greatest joy when we share in its greatest cause


“Our mission is about people”

2 Timothy 4:9-22

Paul closes his letter describing people in his world

It reminds us that our mission from Christ is about people

We must be serious about our theology and wise in our planning, however all this is meant to connect people to Christ

Every person without Christ is under the weight and the judgment of sin

Jesus came for people: humanity is not saved, people are saved

People must respond to the gospel, which means people must hear it

Amazingly, people (us!) are also God’s instruments to share the gospel

Each person we see has burdens, and we have what will help

Faithfulness to mission means each of us is in the people business

Our role in life is to represent Christ to people who all need him

As people of the gospel, we are called by God to care for “one another”

Our mission is not about people generically, it is to people specifically

We all agree that people need the gospel

But are we specially burdened for individuals God has in our path?

Who are you praying for?  With whom are you talking to and building relationships?

We all agree that we are to love fellow believers

But we don’t love “people”, unless we act in love to “persons”

And we don’t love our church, unless we act in love to the people who are our church

Our mission is to people, but it is for Christ

As we live people-oriented, we must remain Christ-centered

Christ is the only true hope people can have, because only Christ has resolved our sin problem

No one is more aware and concerned for people’s welfare that Jesus – he became man for us

No one loves the people you know more than Jesus – he went to the cross for us

We can be confident that Christ is sufficient for any need people have

And you don’t have to make the gospel work in a person, that’s His job

Paul addresses many relational situations in these verses that we can relate to

To Paul these situations were all preeminently about Christ

This means that Christ’s agenda for people is what leads us

The only agenda we have been given for people, is the agenda of the gospel

Paul’s main emphasis in these verses is the people who hurt him

Like Paul, we must not leave our mission when people hurt and disappoint us

We may be tempted to lash back, withdraw or even leave our church

However, Christ never gets off mission toward us (v17)

Walking away from mission is more a response to Christ than to people

The time is coming when our greatest concern will be: did I stay on mission?

Christ is coming for us, and the glory he brings will outweigh every burden (v18)


Continue the Mission  2 Timothy 1

In this the last of Paul’s recorded letters, his theme is complete the mission

The mission Jesus gave us, is to be faithful as disciple-making disciples

Paul gave Timothy reminders to help stay on mission (vs 3-7)

He wants Timothy to be mindful of what is true in his life

Paul’s love and commitment to him (v3)

Timothy had a heritage of faithfulness behind him (v5)

Timothy had a true love for God (v4)

He had experienced God’s presence (v5)

All these encouragements come to us through biblical community

Biblical community flows with reminders of God’s grace

We see it in church life, and church life brings it out of us (1 Corinthians 12)

Paul wants Timothy to be mindful about what is most important

We lose sight of mission, when we lose heart for God

Passion for Christ must be continually cultivated to “fan the flame”

We fan the flame as we pursue God (growing in love for Him)

We fan the flame through the little decisions of each day that put God first

We protect the flame by pursuing God in community with other believers

We can faithfully pursue God, because He faithfully pursues us (v7)

God ‘loves’ us as much as it is possible to love

The Holy Spirit who is the source of all ‘power’ that exists, lives in us

He gives us all we need for the ‘self-control’ of putting God first

Paul confronts a challenge to staying on mission (vs 8-14)

A passion for Christ’s mission will bring struggle

For everyone who follows Christ, there will be some rejection, and some loss

Submission to Him at times is the harder path

Despite the obstacles we are meant to persevere

We can persevere, because God keeps us (vs 12 & 14)

In Romans 8, we saw the many ways in which the Holy Spirit is active in us

We can flourish, because we are always in a place of grace (vs 9-10)

Gospel saves us forever, which means He saves how “all things” turn out for us

Through Christ our suffering is never empty; it becomes part of his eternal kingdom work

Paul encourages Timothy to look at struggle from a gospel perspective

All suffering is for the gospel, when our life serves Christ

God uses our example and obedience beyond what we see

God is glorified when we trust Him; it is an example on earth, in heaven, and to hell

Whatever our struggle if we follow it to the end; Jesus is there!

The only possible end for the believer is victory with Jesus

This means self-pity is delusional if we are in Christ

Paul gives us a pair of examples (vs 15-18)

He mentions two men who “turned away” from mission

Whether it was because of unbelief or drift, they didn’t stay on mission

That is the big question to measure each day, this New Year, and our life

We are Christ followers, so we must continue to stay on mission to be disciple-makers

Onesiphorus on the other hand, continued the mission is every little way he could

Nothing dramatic happens in these verses, yet his faithfulness encouraged Paul

When the Holy Spirit gave us new life, He lit “the flame” that is now in us

This year how will we fan the holy flame that burns?