Thanks for joining me for Philippians on Friday! We’re moving on today to chapter three:
3:1 Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.
Paul is definitely a preacher. He’s only half-way through the Book of Philippians and he says, “Finally, my brethren!” When preachers say, “I’m closing,” or “I’m just about through,” look out. Of course, in the Greek, this passage can be translated as, “Now for the rest.” That is likely what Paul is saying here. (Although we know he was long-winded! In Acts 20, he preached so long that Eutychus fell asleep, fell out the window, and died. Don’t fall asleep on your pastor this Sunday – even if he is long-winded! Thankfully the story of Eutychus ended well. They prayed for him and God raised him from the dead!
But enough humor for today – let’s dig into this great passage. Paul told the Philippians to rejoice!
Rejoice in the Lord
It was a command without conditions. Paul simply told the Philippians to rejoice in the Lord. He didn’t say:
- You just got a raise on your job – rejoice!
- God just answered your prayer – rejoice!
- You just receive a healing – rejoice!
- An unexpected blessing just came your way – rejoice!
No, Paul just said, “Rejoice.” Sometimes you just have to decide to rejoice. Rejoicing is a choice. You can decide to rejoice. You can choose, regardless of what’s going on in your life, to rejoice. David said in Psalms 118:24:
24 This is the day which the Lord hath made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.
The prophet Habakkuk said:
Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. (Hab 3:17-18)
The last thing people want to hear when their joy is gone or when they are having a bad day is the preacher telling them, “Just be glad. Just rejoice!” But often rejoicing is an act of faith. You make a decision, “I will rejoice.” God honors faith. And it is a demonstration of faith to say, “I will rejoice.” I may not feel like rejoicing. I may not have anything good happening right now in my life. But I will rejoice.
Joy Will Come
Am I saying we should live our lives as a fake? Should we pretend to have joy when deep inside it’s not really there? Of course not. But I believe when we step out in faith and decide to rejoice, God honors that faith and imparts His joy to us! It’s like receiving healing – sometimes you have to make the declaration, “I am healed in Jesus’ Name.” You may still feel the symptoms, but you declare your healing in faith. Is that fake or dishonest? No. We are walking by faith and not by feeling. Oftentimes it is that declaration of faith that brings the healing.
Sometimes we have to make the decision, “I will rejoice!”
It’s no different with joy! Sometimes we have to make the decision, “I will rejoice!” We decide to rejoice in the Lord. And when we take that step of faith, God honors it and imparts joy.
How Do You Decide to Rejoice?
People certainly can decide not to rejoice! People choose to be glum or ho-hum. You can choose to rejoice. You can focus on your blessings (which on any given day still outweigh your trials). The decision to rejoice in the Lord is yours. Say it! Say it right now, “I will rejoice!” Put a smile on your face. You can sing, leap, or dance. Make the decision you have the power to make: I will rejoice!
You can choose to say, “This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it.” I believe when you take that step of faith, even when you don’t feel joy, then God honors your faith. He pours His joy upon you!