In times past shoemakers marked out the measure of a person’s foot on their bench. This benchmarking determined the size of the shoe.1 When a surveyor made a mark at the correct height on a stone for his leveling rod, this was his benchmark.2
Benchmark has come to mean a standard for excellence—a mark by which to measure.
In the second chapter of his letter to the Philippians, Paul gives them a benchmark. Having reminded them of God’s grace in their lives, Paul writes:
…make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
William Hendriksen translates Paul’s command as “make full (the measure of) my joy.”3 He writes:
The Philippians, because of their many virtues, had been a source of this joy. But its measure was not yet full. A higher degree of oneness, lowliness, and helpfulness on the Home Front can supply what is still lacking in Paul’s cup of joy. While none of the Philippians would have been able to claim perfection in these virtues, in the case of some the lack was rather noticeable (see on 4:2). This is Paul’s deep concern.4
“…make full (the measure of) my joy…” are words that illuminate our work of service and bring us back to remember that we do not serve ourselves, but each other.
“…make full (the measure of) my joy…” is an imperative statement made by Paul. It is a command given from Paul’s heart—a heart that overflowed with love for Christ and love for the Philippians.
Think about the connection between Paul’s reaction of joy with the way the Philippians think about each other and treat each other. God has placed us in relationship to each other, and through His grace He provides both our ability and our motivation to minister to one another.
In The Discovery Bible, Gary Hill categorizes this command as an aorist imperative.5 In his general explanation of this verb tense he writes:
In the aorist imperative…the call for a specific and definite decision…
An aorist imperative usually relates to a particular and specific situation…
An aorist imperative calls for a decisive choice to effectively accomplish an action, which in many cases is urgent and immediate…
The aorist imperative focuses on decision….6
He summarizes the aorist imperative as a:
Commitment to a decisive and effective choice. A command to “do this!” Make this happen! (Don’t just try!) BEGIN to do this now!7
Think about Paul’s words and realize their seriousness. This is a command—it’s not something to quickly dismiss, “…make full (the measure of) my joy…” is a command to obey, and Paul tells us, and the Philippians, exactly how we are to obey it.
“…make full (the measure of) my joy…” As we reflect on Paul’s command, we have to ask ourselves if the attitudes and actions of our service and ministry to other Christians are such that they would bring Paul joy if he were here to see it?
More importantly, is our service and ministry such that it brings joy to the Lord Jesus?
Der Schuhmacher: Ferdinand Hodler, Public Domain
1Stacy Schaus, Designing Successful Target-Date Strategies for Defined Contribution Plans:
Putting Participants on the Optimal Glide Path, 2010, p. 223.
2Benchmark (surveying): Wikipedia.
3, 4William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Philippians, Colossians and Philemon (Baker Book House, Grand Rapids MI: 1962) 99, 99.
5, 6, 7Gary Hill, with consulting editor Gleason L. Archer, The Discovery Bible (Moody Press, Chicago:1987) 393, xvi–xvii, Fold-Out Flap summary.
Original content: Copyright ©2010–2012 Iwana Carpenter