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Who, Me? Rejoice?Who, Me? Rejoice?
by David Smith


”...my brothers, rejoice in the Lord!” (Philippians 3:1 NIV)

    Pardon me for asking, but “Why?” What’s there to rejoice about?

    In a world laden with things which cry out for our attention — in a culture crammed full of means of distraction — in a society steeped in the pursuit of self-pleasure and happiness — why? Why, of all things, rejoice? We live in a world, as the old saying goes, “headed for hell in a hand basket.” Who can rejoice with that in mind?

    Or look at it from another angle. Isn’t much of the church enamored with the ways of the world? Aren’t many Christians seeking their own pleasure at the quiet expense of others? Aren’t many followers of Jesus chronically selfish and unhappy, even dejected and depressed? Isn’t quite a bit of what gets passed off as faith actually just the world’s way of living in “Sunday clothes?” Honestly, how can we rejoice over such a sorry state of affairs?

    Perhaps we need to rediscover the meaning of “joy.”

    Perhaps we need a truly mature Christian to give us insight as to how we can rejoice in a world gone awry.

    Perhaps we need to recall where real joy comes from and what we’re to rejoice in.

    A preacher named Paul can help us. Paul spoke more often of joy than any other Biblical writer. And no letter of Paul’s mentions joy more often than what we know today as “Philippians.” So join me in a brief tour of the eight portions of that letter which spell out what this spiritual giant of a man thought about joy. Imagine yourself listening to Paul answer the question: “Where can Christians find real joy?” Paul would say:

  • Joy is ours because we share in advancing the kingdom of God.
    ”. . . I make my requests with a heart full of joy because you have been my partners in spreading the Good News” (Philippians 1:4-5a NLT)
  • What greater joy can there be than in knowing you’re helping get “the important thing” done?
    “The important thing is that . . . they are preaching about Christ. So I am happy . . .” (Philippians 1:18 NCV)
  • We can rejoice because we can speak with God Himself for the blessing of others.
    “I will keep on being glad, because I know that your prayers . . . will keep me safe.” (Philippians 1:19 CEV)
  • We find joy by helping others get further down the road in faith.
    ”...I plan to be a ... companion to you as your growth and joy in this life of trusting God continues. ...We’ll be praising Christ, enjoying each other.” (Philippians 1:25-26 The Message)
  • It is our joyous privilege to work at becoming one in Christ.
    ”. . . make my joy complete be of the same mind . . . being in full accord and of one mind.” (Philippians 2:2 NRSV)
  • True joy is pouring out our life in service to God for the benefit of others.
    “I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith ...rejoice with me.” (Philippians 2:17-18 NIV)
  • Joy is something we have because we can celebrate the work of God in people’s lives.
    ”...when you see him [Epaphroditus] again ...rejoice. ... Receive him... with all joy...” (Philippians 2:28-29 NASB)
  • Ultimately, we rejoice because we know that God is always in control.
    “Always be joyful, then, in the Lord; I repeat, be joyful.” (Philippians 4:4 NJB)

Haven’t we found the secret to real joy here?
    It’s an interesting list, isn’t it? And did you notice something all of those thoughts have in common? Not a one of them is self-oriented. Quite literally, all of Paul’s joy involves the lives of others — either the life and work of God or the lives and works of God’s people. This mature Christian can rejoice because he has died to himself.

    Haven’t we found the secret to real joy here? Joy is not about us, it’s about others. It’s not an “I” matter, but a “we” matter.

    To find real joy — to really live, to have abundant life — we first need to do some dying. We must crucify our selfishness and live for the Lord together with those who love Him. Then we too can reach the point where we can say with sincerity, humility and confidence:

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.” (Galatians 2:20 KJV)

    So: “I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4b NIV)

      Comments, questions & requests to be added to the e-mailing list for the Online Devotional may be sent to: <thedsmith@aol.com>

      Title: "Who, Me? Rejoice?"
      Author: David Smith
      Publication Date: March 26, 2002


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