October 25th, 2023 – Late Wednesday Morning
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” ~Philippians 4:4
This verse doesn’t need much explanation; it isn’t a long and complicated thought that requires careful study and tedious interpretation. Really and truly, when it says to “rejoice in the Lord always”, it literally means “rejoice (be glad) in (or by, with, etc.) the Lord (Master, Owner) always (at all times, ever)”. It doesn’t mean be grouchy on the outside, but joyful on the inside; it doesn’t mean be joyful some of the time, but not literally all the time; no, it means just what it says.
The difficult thing with this verse is not the interpretation, but the application. Why? Because, first, we so easily dismiss the command to rejoice in the Lord, and second, we so easily forget His goodness, grace, and authority over our lives. Perhaps the order of those two things can be switched around, but the evidence of their truth is often so clearly seen in our lives. We argue that we can’t possibly be glad (pleased, cheerful, joyous) all the time and/or we are blinded to the Lord’s sufficient and gracious goodness and control by our sin, our self, and/or our circumstances. This verse, in our self-centered minds, is just another of those pie-in-the-sky mottos like “pray without ceasing” and “in everything give thanks” – ideals that are pithy and nice, but certainly impossible.
And now we have hit on the real truth about the situation… We do not obey the command in this verse (nor those others mentioned in the last paragraph) because the god we actually believe in is not the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent Potentate over everything that exists – He who has purchased us and adopted us as His own children through the blood of Christ! This God is the One who not only holds all things together by Himself, but empowers His dearly loved children with everything we need for life and godliness. Everything, at all times, in every way, with all grace.
My beloved brethren, it is high time we started to trust and obey our merciful Master and gracious Lord. It may require you and I to deliberately stop ourselves mid-sentence (and mid-thought) at times so that we can readjust our perspective (and ensuing attitude) to match the reality of His authority. It will require us to actively participate with His Spirit in the renewing of our minds for His glory and our own good. Yet, the benefits of obedience (and gladness) cannot be overstated nor can they be matched; when we gratefully accept His grace and choose to trust in His care, He will provide fullness of joy, gladness of heart, and the perfect peace that surpasses all understanding.
Don’t settle for a joyless existence or a life of solemn and stoic service; rejoice in the Lord always!