Summary: Trials and persecutions notwithstanding, Paul keeps the focus on rejoicing both in his life and in the church.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” Philippians 4:4
In his letter to the church at Philippi, Paul referred to “rejoice”, “rejoiced” or “rejoicing” ten times. The church had much that tended to discourage it. It was not an affluent congregation. It was encountering great persecution (Philippians 1:28-29). It was experiencing a serious disruption in its fellowship (Philippians 4:2). Yet, in spite of all these, Paul keeps the focus on rejoicing both in his life and in the church.
Although we are not faced with the exact adversities as were the Philippians, there is much to discourage Christians in this time. For some it may be disruption in the home or family. For others it might be problems on the job. The declining moral standards in our society and the devaluation of human life in the minds of many are troubling. Nonetheless, if Paul were to speak to us today, he would give instruction that we rejoice in the Lord always.
The cause for our rejoicing has nothing to do with the earthly circumstances in which we find ourselves. The Apostle declared, “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” (Philippians 4:12). As was the case with Paul, even so our rejoicing is in Christ Jesus our Lord; and all the greater when we envision the past, present and future blessings that are found in Him.
REJOICING IN WHAT HAS GONE BEFORE
“And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.” (Ephesians 2:1-3)
Surely there is reason for our rejoicing when we consider that we have passed from death unto life; from darkness unto light; from fear unto confidence; and from defeat unto victory. “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made us free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2)
REJOICING IN THIS PRESENT TIME
“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” (I Peter 2:9)
“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.” (I John 3:1)
“The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs--heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.” (Romans 8:16-17)
These Scriptures are just a few of the many that tell us of our present standing in Christ. If we look at each thing that is said in each of these verses, our spirit would soar and pessimism would give way to glorious optimism. It is when we “turn our eyes upon Jesus; look full in His wonderful face; that the things of this world will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”