One of the most persistent sins in the Old Testament was grumbling and complaining against God. And if you consume the news at all, you’ll see the same grumbling in most headlines—about all aspects of life! If that’s the world’s attitude, what kind of words should come out of a Christian’s mouth?
Life can be hard and discouraging. It often is. Nevertheless, what should be coming out of your mouth? My friend, Bill Fiess, sent me an important reminder:
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (Phil 4:4).
If you remember the context for Paul saying this, his exhortation becomes even more meaningful.
Paul wrote to the Philippians from jail. Not some cushy, minimum security, resort-like prison, but an ancient Roman prison. And yet, he was rejoicing. That’s amazing!
It’s even more amazing when you remember that Paul was writing to the Philippians, and he had also been in jail in Philippi. But he rejoiced there, too. He even rejoiced when, on top of everything else, an earthquake struck the city and destroyed the jail. He and Silas sang with joy! (Acts 16:25-26). And by God’s grace, Paul’s jailer came to faith. (Was he one of the recipients of Paul’s letter?) Paul lived what he preached.
Meanwhile, as Paul sat in jail, the Philippians were suffering for their faith (Phil 1:29). They had good reason to grumble and complain. And yet, Paul called on Christians to rejoice. How could he do that? Was he insensitive to their suffering?
Rejoicing doesn’t mean acting in a false way, pretending that all is well, saying things that you don’t mean, and faking it 'till you make it. Rejoicing is an act of faith.
It means taking a stand in faith and rejoicing, not in your circumstances, but in the Lord. He’s the ground of your rejoicing and the object of your praises. And you can do that in both good times and bad because His good character is the same forever and ever, and He has blessed you with every spiritual blessing in Christ (Eph 1:3).
Thought for the day: Whereas happiness depends on what happens, rejoicing depends on Jesus.