4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your graciousness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6 Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy—dwell on these things.
9 Do what you have learned and received and heard from me, and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.
One day on a hillside near the Sea of Galilee, Jesus began teaching a group of people. What became known as The Beatitudes sums up Jesus’ teachings on earth. In essence, blessed are you if you need Me for you shall have Me. The reward and joy of the believer is Jesus! In the world as we know it, prosperity means bigger and better. It means accumulating more stuff.
But the gospel meaning of prosperity is different! Paul had more than wishful thinking for the Philippians. He had an assured hope, produced by longing, for them to discover the abundant life of knowing Jesus. Life with Jesus had become real to him, and his desire was for them to know the reality of life with Christ.
Paul’s genuine concern is seen in his many letters as he calls for gospel unity. In the previous verses, he specifically mentions a disagreement that had occurred in the church at Philippi. (Philippians 4:2-3) Real life happens, doesn’t it? But, Sister, disagreements don’t need to squash our joy. With the help of mature friends and the work of Jesus, we can restore relationships and renew our joy. We can discover and display the gift of grace and graciousness. (Philippians 4:5)
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4)
Always?! Who likes commands such as “always” or “never”? Usually not me. Unless it’s a reference to always experiencing my favorite thing and never experiencing a hard thing, these words feel so perpetually binding. What kind of joy is this anyway?! It’s essential that we realize that this kind of joy is a gift from God. It comes when we experience the delight of heaven in the real world of now.
The root word for “joy” in Greek is chara, closely related with charis for “grace.” Joy is both a gift of God and a response to God. Joy comes when we experience and relish the gift of grace through Jesus. Just like Paul, all believers live in an alternate reality once they’ve tasted the goodness of God. (Psalm 34:8) Joy is not seen only when circumstances appear favorable (i.e., a plastic smile), but it is sensed deep-down in the soul of a believer. “It is a well-being that abides in the heart of the person who knows all is well between himself and the Lord.” (preceptaustin.org)
So know this, dear Sisters: A life of joy is not only attainable, it’s sustainable through the Spirit of Christ. What do we get from our salvation? We get Jesus! What kind of joy does He give? The kind that sings about the goodness of God in the midst of real-life suffering and pain. (Acts 16:24-25)
This. Is. Our. Life.
… in Jesus.
Pause and dwell on these things, sweet Friend.
“… my dearly loved and longed for brothers and sisters, my joy and crown, in this manner stand firm in the Lord, dear friends.” (Philippians 4:1)
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