The Happiest Man in the World
Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. – Philippians 4:11-13
Everybody wants to be truly happy. Yet even the Apostle Paul wasn’t automatically ‘happy’ for the rest of his life after his regeneration on the road to Damascus. No, he had to learn how to be happy and content. It was a process that took time. He had to learn it from the One who saved him in the first place, and it involved relinquishing all that he was, desired for himself, took pride in – and dismissing it all, counting it as dung – in order to increase his knowledge of Christ Jesus and the power of His resurrection with all its implications for himself, and become truly happy.
So what’s the secret? How can one learn real peace or tranquility of heart and mind?
Study, and eat, the epistle of Philippians.
“This little gem of four sparkling chapters pictures a man who has actually found it. He has unearthed life’s most cherished treasure. He is “the happiest man in the world.” Listen to him, as he says in this epistle:
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! – Philippians 4:4
And this man who had learned life’s greatest secret was a prisoner in Rome, facing possible death by execution!
So, the reasons for studying the epistle to the Philippians are the following:
1. It reveals the secret to true happiness. How this happiness can be obtained is clearly disclosed in this letter.
2. It reveals the man who had learned the secret. Philippians is one of the most personal of all of Paul’s epistles. It shares this characteristic with II Corinthians, I Thessalonians, and Philemon. Nowhere are we brought closer to the real Paul, pouring out his heart to those whom he deeply loves.
3. It reveals the Christ who taught him the secret. Christ as our Pattern and Enabler is portrayed here in the greatness of His condescending love (Phil. 2:5-11; 4:13).
Ofcourse, happiness and contentment are not exactly the same thing, though they certainly are cousins. Happiness is a good thing, contentment is better.
Happiness comes from the old English word “hap” which meant joyful because of circumstances. Paul was content and joyful in all circumstances, hence He wrote: In everything give thanks… Our goal is to be blessed, which means content, joyful, and satisfied in the Spirit– happy comes and goes, blessedness is what we hope to attain and live in now and forever.