Rejoice in the Lord Always!

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!  Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:4-7

The very first verb here, “Rejoice,” amazingly is not in the indicative.  It is not merely a statement.  It is not an interrogative.  It is not a question.  St. Paul speaks here using the imperative form.  That word, “Rejoice,” is a command.  Yet it is a command that does not speak the impossible or the improbable.  By ourselves, if we were to “Rejoice always,” we would certainly fail.

“Rejoice always” even in the midst of extreme sorrow, grief, trouble, and trial?  “Rejoice always” even in the midst of persecution, struggle, sickness, and death?

What Paul demands seems to be impossible!  Such rejoicing we cannot do.  In fact, of ourselves, what Paul demands is impossible, for of ourselves and in ourselves, any kind of rejoicing is only of short duration.  It cannot and will not last.

But Paul does not merely say “Rejoice always.”  He says, “Rejoice in the Lord always.  Again I will say, rejoice (in the Lord)!”

In other words, Paul is not saying that we ought to be always happy and always proud of our own abilities and strengths.  Nor is he saying that we ought to rejoice only when things are going well.

Rejoicing in the Lord has to do with looking to the Lord for our everything.  Indeed, trusting in Him for our everything.  Only in this way can one truly rejoice, even in the midst of suffering or even death.

Because God the Father sent His Son, Jesus, through whom alone we have peace with God (Romans 5:1ff), we truly do rejoice as God’s people.  Not even death itself, let alone any and every trouble in this life, both inside and outside the church, can separate us from His Love for us sinners (Romans 8).

Because of Christ, we have no reason to fear the threats of man, the lesser threat.  Nor do we have reason to fear the threats of the devil, the greater threat, or even of God Himself, the greatest threat.  Because of Christ’s death, there remains no reason to fear the works of sin, the world, our flesh, or the devil.  This also means that we have no reason to fear even our own insecurities, shortcomings, and yes, even transgressions and sins against the Holy God.

Jesus’ blood covers all of our sins.  You have peace with God.  God promises everything that you need in this body and life, even before you even ask (see 4th Petition of the Lord’s Prayer and meaning—Give us this day our daily bread).

Since such is the case, then rejoice!  Your confidence is not in circumstance, what befalls you, or what others think or feel about you. Your confidence is God and His Son, Jesus Christ!  Therefore, “Rejoice always, in the Lord.”  Amen.

Prayer:  Gracious Father, you promise to hear the prayers and petitions of your people, those who call on you through faith in Your blessed Son.  Forgive us for doubting Your kindnesses and gracious Word.  Give us hearts that rejoice in You, lips that confess Your great name, faith that remains firm, and constant love for You, and for others—always.  Amen.

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