1 Peter 1:6-9
Wherein you greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, you are in heaviness through manifold temptations:…
I. THE CHRISTIAN'S JOY.
1. It is present joy. God's service is gladsome even now (1 Peter 1:8; Philippians 4:4). Nor is this joy for advanced believers only, but for all true-hearted seekers after God (Psalm 105:3).
2. It is great joy (Psalm 68:3).
3. There are many sources of the Christian's great joy, but the particular one here mentioned is the present happiness afforded by a believing expectation of the joys laid up for him in eternity.
4. There are important reasons why we all ought to be joyful Christians.
(1) It is our privilege as Christians. When we may be so much happier than we are, what folly not to exercise our right!
(2) Our influence for good over others depends greatly upon the apparent result which religion produces in our own case.
(3) Very much of our own stability as Christians depends upon our joyfulness (Nehemiah 8:10).
II. THE CHRISTIAN'S TRIAL. There is nothing whatever unchequered here below — no joy without sorrow, no sunshine without shadow, no harmony unmixed with discord, Life is like an April day.
1. "Ye are in heaviness" — pressed down, forced to the earth, as if under some cruel load. The Christian's joy is from heaven, his grief from earth. These two are ever at war with one another.
2. "Ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations." Persecutions abounded. The devil aimed his fiery darts at them. The world spread its allurements for them.
3. Yet this state of trial has its alleviations.
(1) It is only "for a season," whereas the Christian's joy endures forever (Psalm 30:5; 2 Corinthians 4:17).
(2) It is only "if need be" — if there is a necessity, if some good can be effected by it.
III. THE UNION OF JOY AND TRIAL IN THE CHRISTIAN'S EARTHLY LOT. Does the text teach that times of trial are destroyers of the Christian's joy, even for a season? On the contrary, St. Peter speaks of the "heaviness" only to give us a more exalted idea of the mighty power of the "joy." "Ye greatly rejoice, though ye are in heaviness"; your hearts remain glad in spite of your trials. Clouds come, but the sun breaks through them and goes on shining still. Obstacles arise, but the bright river of the Christian's peace flows past and over them, deep and glad as before. The one great peculiarity of the Christian's joy is its comparative independence of outward circumstances — nay, its triumph over them. Worldly men can rejoice when all is prosperous. If, therefore, the Christian's joy vanished at the approach of sorrow, men might well ask wherein the Christian differed from others?
(J. Henry Burn, B. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: