Rejoice in the Lord Always
"Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!" (Phil. 4:4). Paul, by inspiration, once again reminds Christians of the privilege and responsibility of rejoicing. Some are inclined to think that the command here is not realistic or that it is simply unattainable. How can anyone "rejoice always" (I Thess. 5:16)? Let me assure you that it is possible for a Christian to rejoice always--otherwise the Lord would not have commanded it! The first point that should be made is that there is a difference between being joyful and being happy. When one is happy, his physical circumstances are pleasant. Biblical joy has nothing to do with the circumstances at hand. It is a positive attitude of contentment--a frame of mind. Christians will often not be happy, yet they can (and should) always choose to be joyful.

Let us consider a Bible example to illustrate this truth. In Acts 16:22ff, Paul and Silas were joyful even though they suffered greatly (cf. Acts 5:41). Now, if they could rejoice, even after being physically beaten, then surely we can rejoice always in any situation we encounter. But how? By remembering how much God loves us and the many ways He has manifested His kindness! By remembering who we are and why we're here! We are children of God, and we're here to serve Him. Consequently, we should be the most joyful people on earth--period! That's what Paul and Silas believed. No amount of suffering, persecution, or trials can take away the joy of a Christian. Of course, Christians often forfeit their joy by being more concerned about matters of the flesh than those of the spirit! Paul knew this and that may be why he commands us repeatedly to rejoice in the Lord!

We have presented a four-part series of lessons on the subject of joy in the past (beginning 02/28/05 on the archives page). We encourage you to study this series as a supplement to this lesson.

Paul continued in Philippians 4:5 - "Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand." Christians are supposed to be gentle. The goal here is to be both longsuffering and caring. We shouldn't just show our gentle side occasionally or when we feel like it. We should let everyone see our patience and kindness. Those we encounter should recognize us as true followers of Jesus by our words and deeds.

Friends, what about you? If you consider yourself to be a Christian, what does the world think about you? Do they think you're for real or just a pretender? Do your neighbors know you for your gentleness? What about those you work with or your classmates or your family? How do fellow Christians view you? Do they perceive you to be one who is easy to get along with or one who is anything but patient and kind?

Paul supplies motivation for letting our gentleness be known by all. He reminds us that the Lord is literally near. Hebrews 4:13 complements this thought well - "And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account."

We will continue our study of Philippians tomorrow.