Sound Words: Rejoice in the Lord

Sound WordsPhilippians 4:4 is a verse that I have recited (and sung) since I was a boy: “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.” I’ve understood the command to rejoice. However, it seemed to me that the phrase “in the Lord” was added to make a fairly normal phrase sound more spiritual. It was “window dressing,” or so I figured. Boy, was I wrong. The phrase “in the Lord” is essential. It’s the heart of the verse. It reveals the very source of joy. All Christians, in all circumstances, and at all times are commanded to find their joy in Christ. That, friends, is a life-changing truth!

There is joy in Christ!
Intimate fellowship with Christ is a pleasure. He offers more than forgiveness of sins—He offers Himself, and thus He offers fullness of joy (John 15:11; 17:13). A friend recently shared with me a testimony of what God is doing in his life. He has been a dutiful Christian for years. However, he confessed that his relationship with the Lord has sometimes seemed like castor oil: good for you, but not very enjoyable. Sadly, I don’t think he’s alone in his experience. Recently, however, he’s learning that walking with Christ is a delight, not merely a duty, and it’s changing the way he lives and thinks. What a liberating realization!

There is joy in Christ alone!
Learning that joy is found only in fellowship with Christ is the key to godly living (Ps 16:11). It means that enduring joy will never be found elsewhere—not in pleasure, not in your spouse, not in alcohol, not in success, not even in ministry. That’s a key lesson for every Christian to learn. If you look elsewhere for satisfaction, you look in vain. That’s the whole point of Ecclesiastes: meaningful joy is found only in intimacy with God. Learning this lesson takes the teeth out of temptation, for sin cannot bring you joy. It also takes the edge off of discouragement, for your joy never rested in your circumstances (Ps 73:25–26; Hab 3:17–18). Read the Scriptures and see if this is not true: the most joyful believers have often been the most mistreated believers. Why? Because they learned to rejoice in the Lord. This is an important truth: your joy will be as constant as its cause. When your joy springs from your union with Christ, you can genuinely rejoice always (Phil 4:4).

Rejoice, friends. Rejoice “in the Lord.”

_______

“Sound Words” is a monthly column in the OBF Visitor, the publication of The Ohio Bible Fellowship. This article was first printed in December 2006 and is cross-posted from the OBF Visitor blog, where many other articles are posted and may be searched by author, category and keyword. Information on subscribing to the Visitor is available here.

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