Philippians 1:27 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.
One of the biggest traps to Happiness is “When & Then” thinking… “When something happens, Then I will be happy.”
- When I get my job promotion or a partner, or the kids graduate, then I will be happy!
But it simply isn't true – Happiness is a choice. It is something you create through right thinking and right living. But, if you live by “When & Then” thinking, ‘negative’ things become a ‘barrier’ to happiness.
These barriers include pain; people; pressure or problems – as soon as a new problem or a pressure comes, you immediately lose your joy, reacting, becoming depressed or angry.
The Apostle Paul experienced every possible barrier you could think of – in 2 Corinthians 11 it explains he was imprisoned; beaten; stoned; shipwrecked; in danger; he endured many sleepless nights; hungry and thirsty… yet as he writes letters to the churches, he is full of joy. He has every reason not to be joyful, but he demonstrates that true happiness is not linked to whatever is happening on the outside, it’s a choice you make on the inside.
Paul shares four reasons why he is happy, whatever happens:
1. Paul looks at every problem from God’s view
Paul says:“I want you to know…that everything that has happened to me has helped to spread the Good News”. (NLT)
Paul was in prison because God put him there to write all those letters which became two-thirds of the New Testament! Paul wanted to evangelize Rome, but God wanted to reach the World.
Whatever problem, pressure or pain you are experiencing, ask God to show you His perspective on the matter and how He wants you to respond to it.
2. Paul doesn’t let others control his attitude
Paul says: The important thing is that in every way, whether for right or wrong reasons, the message of Christ is being shared. So I am happy and will continue to be happy.
Many others were criticizing Paul, his teachings and using his imprisonment as justification – but Paul’s attitude is even if their motives are wrong, the gospel is still being preached. Paul chooses to be happy – “I will continue to be happy”.
Like Paul, don’t let other people influence and dictate the attitude you carry.
3. Paul always trusts that God will work things out
Paul says: Yes, I will continue to rejoice, for I know through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.
We really only have two options – either panic or pray; go to fear or faith; worry or worship. Like Paul, always go to prayer, trusting in God that everything will turn out for your deliverance.
4. Paul keeps his focus on his purpose, not on problems
Paul says,“For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain”. Paul has everything taken from him, his freedom, friends, privacy, and ministry – but there is one thing they cannot take from him, his purpose! Paul’s purpose was to serve God by serving people – and nothing could stop him from doing that, even when in prison.
Paul said: “For me to live is Christ”. What about you: “For me to live is ________”?