Friday, May 29, 2009

"Rejoice...always...." (Really?)

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Phil. 4:4)

It is the responsibility and privilege of every Christian to keep himself ‘glad in God.’

Others undoubtedly have an impact upon us and our ‘happiness’ – but, ultimately, it’s the responsibility of each of us to find in God and his fatherly goodness to us, in our ‘so great’ salvation, and in His providential purpose for us, daily reasons for being glad in God, for rejoicing in the Lord.

So if I find myself indulging myself in a simmering discontent, I am disobeying Paul’s exhortation here, and I’m saying, in effect, that God’s goodness and wisdom have failed in my case, and that my reasons for discontent trump the reasons I have for rejoicing (e.g., forgiveness of sin, peace with God, the indwelling Holy Spirit, God’s Word, the fellowship and friendship of God’s people, the hope of Heaven, etc.).

In writing this way, Paul is certainly not naïve – he knew, more than most, what it was to suffer (consider what he writes in 2 Cor.11:23-29). But he knew, too, all the reasons for rejoicing that belong to the person who is “in Christ.” His rejoicing was no retreat from realism, and so he could affirm a paradox that many Christians seem not to envision – that there are times when we are “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” (2 Cor. 6:10).

So I have no excuse, no justifiable reason to linger in my lack of joy. For in Christ – all He is to me and for me – I have more than enough reason to rejoice.

So are you, today, glad in God? Do you aspire daily to “rejoice in the Lord”? Remember that rejoicing is one of the chief signs that the Spirit is truly at work with us (Rom.5:1-5; Gal. 5:22).


Stephen said...

And the joy stems from the hope within us. As Peter reminds us in 1 Peter 1:3-9,

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

And Luke (2:10-11), records that this joy was from the very beginning of the revelation of Jesus Christ:
And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.’”

Stephen said...

I couldn't help but be reminded of these lyrics:

Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee
Henry J. van Dyke

1. Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee,
God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flow’rs before Thee,
Op’ning to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness;
Drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness,
Fill us with the light of day!

2. All Thy works with joy surround Thee,
Earth and heav’n reflect Thy rays,
Stars and angels sing around Thee,
Center of unbroken praise.
Field and forest, vale and mountain,
Flow’ry meadow, flashing sea,
Singing bird and flowing fountain
Call us to rejoice in Thee.

3. Thou art giving and forgiving,
Ever blessing, ever blest,
Wellspring of the joy of living,
Ocean depth of happy rest!
Thou our Father, Christ our Brother,
All who live in love are Thine;
Teach us how to love each other,
Lift us to the joy divine.

4. Mortals, join the happy chorus,
Which the morning stars began;
Father love is reigning o’er us,
Brother love binds man to man.
Ever singing, march we onward,
Victors in the midst of strife,
Joyful music leads us Sunward
In the triumph song of life.

Douglas Phillips said...

Thanks for the insightful comments, Stephen!