What are we chasing? Could it be…
Money. Investments. Success. Status.
Homes. Cars. Collectables. Toys.
Control. Security. Stability.
Goals. Achievements. Accomplishments. Awards.
Relationships. Love. Affirmation. Affection.
Ideals. Dreams. Perfection.
Beauty. Body. Abilities. Health. Habits.
We spend our time, energy, and finances chasing after these things. Putting our trust, belief, and faith in these things. Hoping these things will bring us joy.
And, then something happens. A relationship is in conflict. A job is lost. We get derailed with an illness or broken bone. The stock market tanks. We wreck a car. We fail a semester. We see lots of wrinkles staring back at us in the mirror.
Paul reminds us in Philippians 3:1 and 4:4 from where true joy comes.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I say rejoice!”
Rejoice in Greek means to “properly, to delight in God's grace ("rejoice") – literally, to experience God's grace (favor), be conscious (glad) for His grace.”
As Tony Evans writes “Worldly happiness is not the same as godly happiness. Godly happiness is called joy. In the Bible, the word joy is a celebration term. Thus, Paul is calling for celebration. The difference between joy and secular happiness is that the latter depends on what happens; it is circumstantially driven. So, if things are going in an upward direction in life, you feel up, but if things are going down, you feel down. This keeps you on an emotional roller-coaster. Biblical joy, by contrast, has to do with stability and celebration on the inside regardless of circumstances on the outside. We must choose to rejoice in order to experience the joy God promises us.”
We must be conscious of God’s grace in our lives, we must choose to rejoice…at all times. Chase after joy in the ups and in the downs. How do we do that?
Paul knew that worldly things would never bring us true joy.
Not human efforts.
Paul said, “We put no confidence in human effort, though I could have confidence in my own effort if anyone could. Indeed, if others have reason for confidence in their own efforts, I have even more!
I was circumcised when I was eight days old. I am a pure-blooded citizen of Israel and a member of the tribe of Benjamin—a real Hebrew if there ever was one! I was a member of the Pharisees, who demand the strictest obedience to the Jewish law. I was so zealous that I harshly persecuted the church. And as for righteousness, I obeyed the law without fault” (Philippians 3:3-6). Paul had made it by religious world standards.
Yet, Paul counted all he had gained as a loss, literally as garbage, compared to the value of knowing Jesus and becoming one with Him (Philippians 3:7-8).
Knowing doesn’t mean head knowledge. It means an experiential or personal relationship with Him. Joy doesn’t come from knowing about Jesus. Joy comes from a deeply rooted relationship with Jesus – spending time with Him.
Not our works or acts of righteousness.
Paul said, “I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead” Philippians 3:9-10).
We can never do enough, work enough, obey enough to bring us true joy. Joy comes from a deeply rooted faith in Jesus – knowing and believing in His promises for your life.
Not our appetite for earthly things.
Paul said, “For there are many, of whom I have often told you, and now tell you even with tears, who live as enemies of the cross of Christ [rejecting and opposing His way of salvation], whose fate is destruction, whose god is their belly [their worldly appetite, their sensuality, their vanity], and whose glory is in their shame—who focus their mind on earthly and temporal things” (Philippians 3:18-19 AMP).
Earthly things will never bring us true joy. They are here today and gone tomorrow. Joy comes from a deeply rooted grace in Jesus - not a fleeting pleasure, but an eternal salvation. Asking Jesus to forgive you for your sins and misplaced joy and giving your heart to Him.
Paul encourages us to press on toward the prize, run the race, chase after…the true joy found in Jesus.
“Let us strip off anything that slows us down or holds us back, and especially those sins that wrap themselves so tightly around our feet and trip us up; and let us run with patience the particular race that God has set before us.
Keep your eyes on Jesus, our leader and instructor. He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the JOY he knew would be his afterwards; and now he sits in the place of honor by the throne of God (Hebrews 12:1-2 TLB).”
Jesus chased joy until the end. A joy far greater than our efforts, our acts of righteousness, or our appetites for earthly things.
Matthew 6:19-21 tells us not to store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, where thieves steal, where these earthly treasures lose value. Instead, scripture tells us to store up treasures in heaven.
“For your heart will always pursue what you value as your treasure.”
(Matthew 6:21 TPT)
To me, pursue sounds an awful lot like chasing after.
What are you pursuing? What are you chasing?
“Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33 NIV)
Look at The Passion Translation of this verse:
“So above all, constantly CHASE AFTER the realm of God’s kingdom and the righteousness that proceeds from him. Then all these less important things will be given to you abundantly.”
Rejoice in the Lord always. Chase Joy. Chase Jesus.
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash