In Philippians, Paul writes,
“…make my joy complete by being of one mind, having the same love, being united in spirit and purpose.”
As I was reading this, I found it strange that he believed that his joy would not be complete unless there was unity among the believers. Was his joy not complete and found only in Christ? Surely he didn’t need other people to make him happy.
Paul of all people should know that only God can meet our deepest needs. So why then did he use his own joy as a motivation for them to be united? I think an experience I recently had can shed some light on this.
Opening day of deer hunting season was a few weeks ago. This is a day I have been looking forward to with great enthusiasm. I decided this year I would go camping the day before and spend the time by myself out in the woods. The weather was perfect. I had my tent set up deep in the woods, a warm fire to cook my food and the blissful silence you only find when you go off the grid. I woke up early and climbed my favorite tree. As the sun rises, you get to be a silent witness to all of nature coming alive. The birds and squirrels scurry about their busy day as I keep my ears open for the sounds of rustling leaves and the hopes of spotting the white tail of a deer. Although I never saw a deer, as any hunter will tell you, there is enough satisfaction in the hunt that we will return to try again another day.
As much as I enjoyed my day alone hunting and camping, something was missing. It was like I planned a great dinner party but forgot to invite my friends. I had everything needed for a great time, but it was missing something because I had gone alone. Joy is something that needs to be shared in order to be complete. It was a good day, but it could have been a great day if I had brought some friends along to share the experience with.
Paul had joy, but his joy was only complete when he discipled others to share in the joy he had in Christ. We are to invite people to the party that God has stirred within our hearts. Take the time to invite other people to the banquet of God’s grace, and you will find your own joy being more complete.