Joy Giving Relationships are Built on the Gospel of Jesus (Part 1)

But joy, because we are IN CHRIST, is permanent because we are never OUT of Christ.

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An Example Of Joy

Cyprian was a Bishop of the 3rd Century in Carthage, Tunisia and he demonstrates what real joy looks like. Not long after he was elected as the bishop in Carthage, Christians began to experience persecution in Northern Africa and all over the Roman Empire as Emperor Decius began what has become known as the Decian Persecution. About 6 years later a new wave of persecution broke out against Christians under Emperor Valerian. Cyprian led his church to stay faithful to God and he refused to sacrifice to pagan gods and continued to firmly profess Christ. This lead to years of banishment and his ultimate public execution. After receiving his sentence and being told he would be made an example and publicly executed he said “Thanks be to God.1

In one of his writings, Cyprian wrote to a friend and said the following:

“This seems a cheerful world, Donatus, when I view it from this fair garden under the shadow of these vines. But if I climbed some great mountain and looked out over the wide lands, you know very well what I would see; thieves on the high road, pirates on the seas, in the amphitheaters men murdered to please the applauding crowds, under all roofs misery and selfishness. It really is a bad world, Donatus, an incredibly bad word. Yet, in the midst of it, I have found a quiet and holy people. They have discovered a joy which is a thousand times better than any pleasure of this sinful life. They are despised and persecuted, but they care not…These people, Donatus, are the Christians, and I am one of them.”

I don’t know about you, but I want that type of joy.


Jesus, Not Circumstances

In Philippians 1:3-8 we see the Apostle Paul giving thanks to God, praying with joy, and expressing confidence in the work of God, all while sitting in a Roman prison. Spirit-given, joy-filled confidence is not rooted in earthly security or tangible evidence. We typically feel happiness or confidence when we have a lot of money in the bank, or when life is going easy, or when we can control our circumstances so that our life is comfortable. But that isn’t the context of Philippians.

Paul is at the tail-end of his ministry and he isn’t retiring off to some tropical island to enjoy his twilight years because he planted a bunch of churches and wrote the majority of the books in the New Testament. He is sitting in a Roman prison. Not exactly an ideal situation for comfort and security. He isn’t even able to be physically present with the people to who he is so close. But he is filled with thanksgiving, confidence, and joy. Why?

Joy despite our circumstances flows from our union with Christ. It is a fruit of the Holy Spirit working in our lives. You need to know Jesus to experience the type of profound joy we see on display in Paul’s life and the type of joy that the Holy Spirit calls us to throughout this little book. There has to be a daily communion with Christ to experience the joy that is deeper and more profound than simple happiness because of circumstances.


Relationships Are A Conduit Of Joy

There is a difference between happiness because I’m in Disneyland and happiness because I am in Jesus. Don’t get me wrong, Disneyland is amazing. It’s a ton of fun. But there comes a moment when you are no longer IN the happiest place on earth and you are left with the realization of how much money you just spent. Happy is not usually the word for that feeling.

But joy, because we are IN CHRIST, is permanent because we are never OUT of Christ. So we can always experience deep-soul level joy. And as people grow together in their communion in Christ they develop this type of joy-giving relationship that we are going to see here. But all of this grows out of what we see in verse one. That we are saints IN CHRIST.

What I love about these verses is that you begin to see the close relationship Paul has with this church and how God uses this relationship as a profound sense of joy in Paul’s life. In an earlier post, we saw the difficult circumstances that led to the birth of this church and it seems like from that beginning there was a permanent bond of affection between Paul and this church. God was using this church as a conduit of joy in Paul’s life. And he wants to use his church as a profound source of joy in your life as well.



This is an updated edition of a post originally published on Thriving In Exile.

Featured Image by Yuliya Harbachova from Pixabay


The views and opinions expressed by Kingdom Winds Collective Members, authors, and contributors are their own and do not represent the views of Kingdom Winds LLC.

About the Author

Nick Minerva lives in Fresno, California with his wife, Sarah and their four children. He currently serves as the Associate Pastor of Fresno Church where he has been on staff for over 10 years.