Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things again is no trouble to me and it is a safeguard for you.
– Philippians 3:1
I have a very good friend who is having a major impact on me because he is a man who rejoices! And he reminds and encourages me to rejoice.I don’t know about you, but like the Philippians I have to be reminded to rejoice in the Lord. I have to make a conscious decision to be happy in Jesus — to be glad in the Lord. Paul writes that to be reminded is a safeguard — reflecting on why I’m to be rejoicing and taking steps to rejoice protect me.
Here are some thoughts from Philippians I trust might remind all of us to rejoice.
First, rejoicing in the Lord confirms we belong to God. We can be a rejoicing people because “we are of the true circumcision” (3:3). Those in Christ have been truly set apart by the God of the universe as His own. We need no external mark or external religious act to complete what Christ has done for us. What Christ has done completely satisfied God. “We worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh” (3:3). Having believed, we have been sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise who is given as a pledge of our inheritance (Eph. 1:13,14). A rancher friend of mine talks about being branded by the Holy Spirit and that ‘brand’ forever identifying whose we are. Rejoice in the Lord!
Second, rejoicing in the Lord protects from demeaning Christ and despair. “Beware of the dogs, the evil workers, the false circumcision” (3:2). Don’t miss it: believing we have to add external religious acts to the finished work of Christ so as to be declared righteous before God suggests Christ didn’t get the job done. Theologically, it demeans Christ and dishonors God (John 5:23, 24; Gal. 5:2-6). Psychologically it leads to doubt and discouragement. Did you do the religious act seriously enough? Perfectly enough? Thoroughly enough? You shall be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect – that’s the standard (Matt 5:48). How’s that going for you? Rejoice in the perfections of Christ! Someone once said, never try to teach a pig to sing. You won’t be pleased with the results and it only irritates the pig. That’s what happens when we try to add religious acts to what God has declared finished; no one is satisfied. Rejoice in the Lord!
Third, to rejoice in the Lord is to have an upward call on our lives. Rejoicing in the Lord is great evidence we are motivated wholly by the risen, ascended Christ, and we’re not religious hacks (3:4-16). Paul counted all his religious trappings as rubbish. All his religious earned income credit was tossed out in exchange for the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus His Lord. Rejoicing in the Lord is to be spiritually alive. Like Paul, we trust in a Person; we seek to know a Person; we desire for that Person to define everything about us. We rejoice in the Lord – pressing on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.