Philippiansby David Sanford
Now, Paul offers a rapid-fire series of encouraging verses. This first one is short and easy to memorise: ″Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: rejoice!″ (Philippians 4:4). Let's consider what it says thematically.
For the eighth time in this epistle, Paul uses the phrase, ″in the Lord″. When we rejoice in the Lord, it means we have heavenly-minded confidence, hope, and endurance. Throughout his epistles, Paul often speaks of faith and love in Jesus Christ, as well as love for our fellow believers. To rejoice in the Lord, we need to remain in Christ, which leads to loving our fellow believers (John 15:9-12, Colossians 1:4).
Day in and day out, our thoughts, attitudes, words, and actions are either ″in the Lord″ or not. The latter is the default because of our sinful nature. The former is far and away the best. Each time, it's our choice.
For the second time in this epistle, Paul uses the even more wonderful phrase, ″rejoice in the Lord″. In Philippians 3:1, he uses this phrase to introduce a chapter full of exhortations to stay true to Jesus Christ (v. 3), to keep pressing on to receive our eternal reward (vv. 12-14), to actively keep following the godly example of Paul and others (v. 17), and to quickly resolve issues and live in harmony with other believers (4:1-3).
Here in Philippians 4:4, Paul uses the phrase ″rejoice in the Lord″ to introduce a rapid series of encouraging commands to bear with others (v. 5), remember the Lord is near (v. 5), not worry (v. 6), pray about everything (v. 6), experience God's deep and abiding peace (v. 7), think about what is good and right and best (v. 8), be content in every circumstance (v. 12), and ask Jesus to empower us in all things (v. 13).
Our thoughts, attitudes, words, and actions are either ″[rejoicing] in the Lord″ or not. The former isn't merely a choice; it's to become our way of life. Paul highlights this when he points out that we are to rejoice in the Lord ″always″ (v. 4).
With the Holy Spirit's empowering, rejoicing and giving thanks to God can truly become our way of life. In Ephesians 5:20, Paul ends by saying, ″always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.″ Of course, ″always″ can happen only when the Lord is your first love!
What does it look and sound like to ″Rejoice in the Lord always″ (Philippians 4:4)?
Read Ephesians 5:18. When was the last time you asked God's indwelling Holy Spirit to fill you? When will be the next time?
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