“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say rejoice” [verse 4]
We live in a very stressful society. If you don’t believe that then just take a few journeys on the London Underground and take time to look at people’s faces.
We all experience a measure of stress and it is not always bad, but anxiety mixed with stress is a real joy killer. Pete Scazzero says, “One of the best measures of an anxious environment is a diminishment of play and laughter”.
Because we live in a society full of stress and anxiety, it is vital that we choose to be joyful. Like love, joy is a choice that we make. When Paul writes to the Church in Philippi, he exhorts them to rejoice. In the Greek text, the word “rejoice” is an imperative, and therefore a choice to obey or disobey.
Be mindful of where Paul was he wrote to the Philippians. He was under arrest, in Rome and facing a possible execution. The last time Paul was in Philippi he and Silas were beaten and thrown into prison. What did they choose to do – they prayed and sang hymns at midnight [Acts 16:25]. Paul did what he tells others to do – he chose to rejoice even when the circumstances are unpleasant and stressful.
As with love, there is a question of what comes first. Do we wait for the Holy Spirit to fill us and as a result experience joy, or do we choose to rejoice and as we do so the Holy Spirit fills us and expands the joy within us? Often, when we take the first step of faith, God honours our faith and takes us to the next level.
In his free translation of Philippians 4:4 from the Greek text, Francois du Toit writes, “Joy is not a luxury option; joy is your constant! Your union in the Lord is your permanent source of delight; so I might as well say it again, rejoice in the Lord always”.
Why do you think that the word “always” is the most difficult part of our text today?
Considering Pete Scazzero’s statement, “One of the best measures of an anxious environment is a diminishment of play and laughter,” how do you measure up on the anxiety scale? If anxiety is a problem for you, what can you do about it?
What do you think comes first, being filled with the Spirit or making a decision to rejoice? What is the reason for your answer?