Finding our joy in Christ, the remedy for what ails us!
Published March 24th, 2016
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“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.” Philippians 4:4
Χαίρετε ἐν κυρίῳ πάντοτε•
Rejoice in the Lord always
Again I will say
Greek Devotional - Phil 4:4 “Christ our Joy, the remedy for what ails us” It is clear from Paul's use of repetition that this is a truth he wants to drive home. In fact he already stated this phrase in 3:1. Yet why is this so important that Paul wants us to do it always? What exactly is Paul getting at here? What does it mean to rejoice…..in the Lord? - the verb χαιρω, according to BDAG means to "to be in a state of happiness and well-being, rejoice, be glad" - In the Lord, according to BDAG, means the "cause of the joy," meaning "rejoice because of the Lord." In other words, the ground of our happiness needs to be the Lord. I think another way of stating this is to say "Find your happiness in Jesus.” (He uses "κυριος," I believe, to reference Christ, see ( 1:2 , 2:11 , 2:19 )) Christ is both the object of the rejoicing and the cause of the rejoicing. To rejoice in something is to be in a "state of happiness and well-being" because of that object, or with that object in view. In other words, Paul is commanding the Philippians to be happy in the Lord Jesus. Rejoicing and joy are a constant theme throughout Philippians. Paul describes himself as rejoicing in all of the following ways: 1:18 - he rejoices that Christ is being proclaimed 1:19 - he rejoices that he will be delivered 2:2 - he states that he wants to be able to rejoice in the Philippians being unified 2:17 - he rejoices in the face of suffering for the Philippians' faith 4:10 - he rejoices in the Lord that they were able to express concern for him 4:1 - he rejoices in the Philippians when he says they are his joy Yet I think the best place that Paul “rejoices in the Lord” in all of Philippians is in Philippians 3:8 when he says, “ I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. ” It is interesting that this phrase is placed at the heart of a passage that is introduced by “Rejoice in the Lord” - 3:1. For the person who finds their happiness in Jesus, it is only natural for them to say that he is their supreme Treasure, the one thing they would gladly give everything up in order to have forever. In fact, Paul said in 1:23 that he would gladly give up this life in order to be with the Lord. I found it interesting how this imperative to find joy in the Lord applied directly to the three main issues Paul addresses in the life of the Philippian church: suffering, unity, and false teachers. According to Paul, finding our joy in the Lord allows us to triumph in suffering by saying Christ is worth it, and he will deliver us (1:19, 2:17). Finding our joy in the Lord puts Christ at the center of what believers hold in common. If Christ is our chief delight, what else should be able to successfully divide us (4:2-4)? Finding our joy in the Lord keeps the proclamation of the gospel central, not the preachers who do it for wrong reasons (1:18). It keeps the purity of the Gospel clear by elevating Christ to his unique place of Savior and provider of righteousness (3:1,9). As much as this truth applied to these situations back then, I wonder how many personal applications we could make today? I wonder in my own life how if I was truly satisfied in Christ I would not seek the approval of others like I do. I wouldn’t aim for perfection. I wouldn’t cling to self-reliance and loath weakness. I wouldn’t put such a weight on personal comforts. I wouldn’t pursue the acquisition of knowledge for the sake of self exaltation. I wouldn’t worry about the future responsibilities I may have, and whether I will be ready for them. I would be full of joy. Yet at the end of the day, while I see the wondering of my heart towards other things, I also see the powerful, converting grace of God. I can say with Paul that "I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord." What I mean is that God has so worked in my heart to ravish me with the beauty of Christ in the Gospel that I can honestly say that at the bottom of my heart is the foundational conviction that my ultimate happiness lies is in Christ. Though through my day I see my heart waver, I am thankful for the new heart God has put within me that truly, yet imperfectly delights in him. Is there any practical wisdom in Philippians for how to cultivate this rejoicing in the Lord? 1) Get among believers. Paul wasn't experiencing joy in the Lord in a vacuum. His interaction with them caused him to have joy in the Lord - “ I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. ” (4:1). 2) Make the proclamation of the Gospel a front and center priority. Then rejoice when it advances (1:18). 3) Find in Christ the only source of your righteousness (3:8-11) as the Gospel shows you your need for a Savior and sets you free to pursue more of him each day. May the Lord deepen our joy in him as we grow day by day in our pursuit of him!! And may the words of the prophet ring true for us through all the ups and downs of ministry and life to come: “ Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.” - Hab 3:17–18