Summary: "Make the Choice to Rejoice" is not a platitude, but an accurate summary of Paul's commands in Philippians 4.
THE CHOICE TO REJOICE
A “platitude” is a comment or statement that a person makes that is often flat or dull that is meant to sound very fresh and profound. Most of the time the statements seem deep, but in the end really mean nothing at all or simply are not true. Many of them have to do with when life gets hard or difficult or we have problems and are a poor attempt at saying that the situation will work out fine. Platitudes are usually NOT helpful in any way shape or form. Maybe you have heard these:
“It is what it is”
“Everything happens for a reason”
“Every cloud has a silver lining”
“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”
“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”
The last one is often used on t-shirts and is found in various movies and tv shows. I saw one recently that said: “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger… except for bears… bears will definitely kill you.” I found that funny.
I would like to share a statement with you this morning that I hope and pray will be encouraging to you and I also hope is not just a platitude. I do not want the statement to be dull or flat. I do not want the statement to say nothing at all or to simply not be true. I want the short phrase to accurately describe and summarize what we find in our Biblical passage today. I want the phrase to be helpful and useful and transformative in our lives.
This is a statement grounded in Scripture.
This is a statement that can speak to us when life is going downhill.
This is an umbrella of truth that can encourage us when it is raining and pouring in our lives.
THREAD: MAKE THE CHOICE TO REJOICE [repeat] [congregation says it as well] [ask for signs in ASL]
I have to tell you that on the surface, that statement looks pretty stupid. It seems not helpful. It seems like a nice thing to say, but not something that has any basis in reality or in real life. The phrase “MAKE THE CHOICE TO REJOICE” is not a platitude, but we find it in Philippians 4. This morning we are going to make our way through Philippians 4 and see how this statement is true and necessary for us in our lives. This is not a platitude, but truth for living.
READ PHILIPPIANS 4:1-4: REJOICING AMIDST DISAPPOINTING PEOPLE
Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends! 2 I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord. 3 Yes, and I ask you, loyal yokefellow, help these women who have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. 4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
As Philippians 4 opens, we find that not everything is going well in the Philippian church and there is a problem brewing. Paul knows several of them in the midst of the problem. To be honest, these are not people that Paul just knows, but are people that he calls “loyal yokefellow.” These are people that Paul considers partners in preaching. These are comrades of the Kingdom. He mentions Euodia, Syntyche, and Clement by name in verses 2 and 3. Something is amiss with them. Notice that in verse 2 these two women, Euodia and Syntyche, are not just arguing about something silly or something easily agreed upon, but they are arguing and have a disagreement about something to do with faith. I am thinking that the disagreement is so sharp that it is causing a problem in the church and Paul feels the need to mention it in his letter.
People that Paul knows and loves are disagreeing with each other and causing problems in the church. I am sure that makes him feel disappointed. He feels frustrated with them. He not only asks them to work out their issues, notice that in verse 2 Paul says that he “pleads” with them. To me, that shows how serious the issue is and how important these two ladies are to the Philippian church.
In the midst of dealing with disappointing people, Paul does what? He is speaking about the disagreement of Euodia and Syntyche and then instructs us to rejoice! Verse 4 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” In the midst of disagreements or problems or disappointment or painful situations, we can indeed rejoice in the middle of it.