As he prepares to conclude the letter, Paul admonishes the Philippians to rejoice in the Lord. If we have the mindset of Christ (set forth in chapter 2), the result should be gratitude for whatever circumstances we encounter. Rejoicing in the face of challenges keeps us safe from losing the proper mindset.
Paul warns about teachers who seek to lead the Philippians away from the truth of Christ’s finished work on the cross. These false teachers might have sought to add to Christ’s gospel, perhaps telling Gentiles to practice circumcision to become righteous. But Paul points out that he is the most Jewish of Jews: he has always kept the Law, he can trace his lineage and tribe, he was even a Pharisee—and yet he does not count religious credentials to be of real benefit. Only faith in and obedience to Jesus pleases God, and knowing God by faith is the only thing that gains us true and lasting benefit.
Paul considers religious observance meaningless compared to the far better value of serving Jesus Christ through the obedience of faith. Following rituals in Jewish Law does not lead to living righteously, but walking by faith in Christ does. There is a future reward for believers who give up worldly concerns, who live out the servant mindset of Christ, obeying Him and dying to self. This immense benefit is worth it, even if it means rejection or loss—giving up everything of this world, even dying for the name of Christ, just as He died for the world.
This goal of living out the servant mindset of Jesus is an ongoing process. It is something believers should seek to do for the rest of their lives, daily pressing forward toward God’s calling for us to have the attitude of Jesus, who lived out faithful obedience to God to the point of death, and was rewarded by God for His faithfulness.
Paul tells the Philippians to imitate him, not other believers who are living contrary to Christ by serving their own immediate desires. They live lives of destroyed opportunity and shameful waste, prioritizing earthly gain. Such wastefulness causes Paul grief; he mourns that believers would squander their opportunity to serve God.
Believers should look beyond the present and beyond this earth, toward Heaven and a New Earth. This is the place of our true citizenship. It is where we truly belong, our true country, where believers in Jesus will one day live. Jesus will remake our bodies, without a sinful flesh. It will be a world in which righteousness dwells. To rejoice provides a safeguard to maintaining a proper perspective of life.