As I prepared for this Sunday’s sermon on joy, I was alarmed by the command found in Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” In one short verse we are given two commands to rejoice. A command to rejoice? Isn’t that a bit odd? A few thoughts:
1) This command to rejoice (i.e. be joyful) proves that joy is not natural for the Christian – it’s supernatural. We are unable to generate true, biblical joy on our own merits; we need the Spirit’s help. In fact, the fruit of the Spirit is “love, JOY, peace…” (Gal. 5:22).
2) This command also proves that joy is a choice for the Christian. We choose to be joyful or we choose not to be joyful. As with any command in Scripture, we can obey it or disobey it. The choice is ours alone to make. We are not passive recipients of joy, we are active receivers of joy…joy is a choice.
3) This command to be joyful also proves that sometimes you have to fight for your joy. Yes, fight! The dual command to rejoice proves just how tenacious we need to be in order to get, keep, or maintain our joy. Want to know more on who or what will rob you of joy? Join us this Sunday morning at 10:15 AM to find out!
4) Notice this command is very specific. We are to rejoice “in the Lord”. We are not to rejoice in the people and circumstances of life because, let’s face it, sometimes people and circumstances don’t call for expressions of joy, they call for expressions of sadness. However, even when people fail us and circumstances let us down, we are still commanded to rejoice “in the Lord”. I am convinced that far too many Christians are too focused on the here and now (i.e. my marriage, my house, my career, my money, etc.) and not focused on eternity. Too many Christians put too much weight on the here and now and expect the here and now to be their ultimate source of joy…only Jesus and eternal realities can provide true joy.
5) Again, notice the way this verse is structured. No other command in Scripture is structured like this command. We don’t read the command to not murder as “Thou shalt not commit murder. Again I will say, don’t murder!” But Paul exhorts his readers to rejoice twice in one verse, why? Answer: Because the command to rejoice is worth obeying. Like a loving parent, commanding their child to eat all of their vegetables, because they know it’s good for them, our loving Heavenly Father commands us to rejoice (twice) because He knows that even when we don’t feel like it…it’s the best thing for us!
I know much more could be said on this topic of joy. In fact, what is joy? How is joy different from happiness? What does joy generate in the believer’s life? To find out the answers to these questions and more, visit us this Sunday at 10:15 AM as we unpack truths from the book of Nehemiah and delve into the world of joy!