July 27th, 2023 – Very Early Thursday Morning
“Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things again is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard for you.” ~Philippians 3:1
Have you ever felt like a broken record? Or that you were listening to someone who sounds like a broken record (like me, for instance)? We have been focusing our attention on Philippians 2 for the past few months in these devotionals and the theme of joy has come up again and again in various manifestations. You might think that we have heard enough about it; yet, here it is again in the beginning of this next chapter and section of Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Furthermore, it seems that Paul is reiterating it intentionally as a means of encouraging and protecting the church in Philippi. [Side note: It could be that Paul wrote the things in the following verses as a safeguard for the church as well, but since he uses the word “Finally” here, it seems likely that this is also included (or even the main point) of the “same things”.
So what’s with all the instruction, exhortation, encouragement, and commands regarding rejoicing or being joyful? Is joy or rejoicing really that important? How can it help safeguard our faith?
First off, the Greek word that is translated “rejoice” here also has the meaning “be glad” attached to it. Webster, in his 1828 dictionary, explained “rejoice” this way: “To experience joy and gladness in a high degree; to be exhilarated with lively and pleasurable sensations; to exult.” The meaning of “Glad” or “Gladness”: “Pleased; affected with pleasure or moderate joy; moderately happy.”, “Cheerful; joyous.”, and “Joy, or a moderate degree of joy and exhilaration; pleasure of mind; cheerfulness.” To rejoice or be glad in the Lord, then, is fundamentally a choice to exult in Him – to find our ultimate happiness and joy in Him and His unchanging nature. It is to deliberately delight in Him, even in the midst of great trial and persecution.
Second, now that we know what it means to rejoice in the Lord, why is it so important? Ultimately, as we may have discovered and discussed before, joy is a result of belief and trust, not circumstance. The command to be deliberate in delighting in the Lord is truly a command to trust in the Lord and His ultimate authority over us and all of life. It is a command to know Him more and find reason to delight in Him.
Finally, our unity with the Lord (and each other) and our very faith are all protected when we choose to trust in, believe, and rejoice in the Lord. How? Instead of focusing on ourselves, each other, and the circumstances which surround us, we are focused on the Lord and His character. Rather than giving into the waves of discouragement, anxiety, fear, anger, hurt, bitterness, and every other temptation of the world, the flesh, and the devil that crash again and again on our souls, we can stand victoriously upon the solid Rock of Ages who is the source of our joy, the basis for our gladness, and the awesome LORD God of hosts who exhilarates our very being!
Does all of that sound far-fetched or trite? Try it. He gives such abundant grace and mercy to those who take the time to humbly and genuinely ask and obey. We can choose joy right now (and now…and now…and…every moment today) and find that He is far more than we can ever begin to imagine. May He strengthen your heart and lift up your soul!