Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. (Philippians 4:4)
We all struggle with forgetfulness to some extent, I suppose. Missing appointments, searching for keys, failing the name-to-a-face game…it’s all one of the lesser devastations flowing from the Fall.
So perhaps we could forgiven for glossing over Philippians 4:4 on our way to more memorable verses like those on prayer (“do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition…”) or contentment (“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”). A short verse on rejoicing seems so, well, forgettable.
Maybe the frequency of Scripture’s exhortations to rejoice in the Lord causes us to speed up when we should slow down.
Maybe we see rejoicing as the icing in the Christian life and not the meat. Extra credit and not the regular assignment.
Maybe there’s some pride in moving quickly past rejoicing, as we somehow believe we have more important things to attend to.
For whatever reason, we often forget to rejoice, to cultivate and express deep joy and satisfaction in the goodness and greatness of our God.
So let’s pause and slow down and listen to the Holy Spirit again:
Rejoice in the Lord always; again i will say, rejoice.
Paul’s smart enough to use the megaphone of repetition. And not just here. Consider:
Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble for me and it is safe for you. (Philippians 3:1)
This earnest repetition shows that rejoicing is one of the “majors” of the Christian life.
Further, our joy isn’t formless and void, but fixed upon and springing from our Lord. Because He is worthy, our joy is non-optional. Because He is infinitely great and gracious, our joy literally knows no bounds. Because He is never-changing, our joy can be (should be!) an ever-present reality.
Rejoicing is hard, sometimes to the point of being painful. To counteract this, we put joy in the category of things we only need to do when we feel like it: “I’m not feeling very joyful today.” But this is at the heart of why Christians are saved by Jesus: to rejoice in God! The gospel isn’t just a solution to sin, it is the road of restoration with our Father!
If God has saved you, rejoicing in Him is now one of your highest callings in life. This means taking seriously the call to cultivate joy, regardless of your circumstances. If you don’t have joy, go find it! Open God’s Word and read prayerfully until you find your soul stirred with satisfaction in Him. If you do have it, express it! Pray prayers of rejoicing, sing songs of joy, bear witness of your joy to those around you.
Don’t forget. Your chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.