Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.…
No doubt the apostle used a common expression of parting salutation, similar to our "farewell," when he wrote the word which we translate "rejoice." But it is certain that he was not one to employ conventional language as an empty form. Old familiar words, often repeated quite thoughtlessly, were taken by him in their full original signification. So when Christ said, "Peace be with you," he uttered a familiar phrase of parting; but he breathed into it a deep meaning, and gave peace with the words. Christ's salutation was a benediction; St. Paul's salutation was at least an utterance of a heartfelt desire for the joy of his friends.
I. WE ARE ENCOURAGED TO REJOICE. Christianity grows out of a gospel. It was heralded by angel-songs of gladness. The funeral dirge is not the suitable expression of our worship. Hosanna shouts and hallelujahs more become its glad character. We are encouraged to rejoice on many grounds.
1. For our own sakes. If there is no virtue in melancholy, it is foolish to refuse the gladness offered by God.
2. For the sake of our work. Joy is invigorating. "The joy of the Lord is your strength." Needless melancholy is sinful when it paralyzes our energies.
3. For the sake of others. Our joy will be sunshine to others if it be a true, generous, Christian gladness. Our gloom will make others miserable. Moreover, by manifesting Christian toy we invite others to share in the benefits of the gospel.
4. For Christ's sake. It pleases him and honors him.
II. OUR JOY SHOULD SPRING FROM CHRIST. We are to "rejoice in the Lord." Other innocent joys are permitted and consecrated by Christ; for was he not a helpful Guest at the marriage feast? and did he not scandalize some gloomy hypocrites by taking a very different course from his ascetic forerunner? Indeed, many earthly joys are safe to the Christian which are perilous to others, because the Christian enters them with Divine safeguards. "All things are yours" is said to Christians, partly because "to the pure all things are pure." But a peculiarly Christian joy is derived directly from Christ.
1. The joy of his love, receiving and returning it. Love is the source of the greatest joy.
2. The joy of his service, delighting to do his will.
3. The joy of his blessing. The heavenly citizenship and its inheritance are ours in Christ.
III. OUR JOY IN CHRIST SHOULD BE CONTINUOUS. The difficulty is to rejoice alway. It requires much faith and nearness to Christ. It is only possible to those who live in the unseen and eternal. But if, believing in our heavenly citizenship, we set our affections above, with our heart anal our treasure in heaven, and with the heaven of Christ's presence in our soul here, there will spring up a joy in the midst of earthly trouble. It is remarkable that this Epistle to the Philippians, written under the most adverse earthly circumstances, by the worn and aged apostle in prison, is the fullest of gladness. The secret is the richness of the inner life of St. Paul, as this was made bright by his close fellowship with Christ. - W.F.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.