The Connection between Joy and Our Thoughts


I am preparing a two part sermon on Philippians chapter 2, but wanted to get my mind around the theme of the book; so I set in to do my own detailed study of the common themes found in the book. Now I have a complicated markup system that helps me analyze the text: 1) box in black repeated words 2) circle in red anything being contrasted or contrasting words 3) highlight in orange clauses that show purpose or reasons 4) highlight in blue phrases or clauses that show how something is to be done 5) highlight in green figures of speech 6) highlight in purple examples 7) underline in blue commands 8) underline in orange conditional statements. My bible ends up looking like a rainbow sometimes.


I had always heard that Joy was the main theme of the book of Philippians but I wanted to do the work myself; so I set about boxing in all the repeated words like joy, rejoicing and gladness, but I also came across another set of repeated thoughts in the book: mind, think, remember. The joy set of words are repeated at least 19 times through the book, but the mind words are repeated between 11-16 times. So it isn't a minor theme.


It is clear from Chapter 4:6-8 that there is a connection between what we think and how we feel. This text specifically deals with anxiety and we are commanded to think on things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and praiseworthy. And the result is the peace of god with passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Vs 7). Vs 9 also adds the idea of doing and God's peace will be with us, but our focus today is on what we think.


This connection between the mind and how we feel though doesn't just apply to peace and anxiety. This connection is central to Paul's book on joy. Here was Paul sitting under house arrest, chained to a Roman guard unable to preach the word of God freely. If it were me, I would be down in the dumps, but Paul's mind was not bound. His circumstances were not good and yet he found joy because he brought to mind the truths of Philippians.


I hope this has just been a short reminder to find Joy in God inspire of our circumstances. And the key to finding that joy: having the right mind.