Paul begins this passage by commanding us to rejoice in the Lord. To rejoice means to feel or show great happiness about something. This command is even more incredible when you know where Paul was penning this letter from, a Roman prison. How can Paul feel or show great happiness in the Lord when he was in the midst of suffering? True joy comes from God alone. Psalm 16:11 tells us: “You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” It is because rejoicing in the Lord does not depend on where you are in your lives right now. You may be in the midst of difficulty but we still called to experience and show joy. Our joy as Christians comes from knowing who God is and what he has done for us. We can rejoice because we know God is in our midst even in difficulties. On a number of occasions, I have heard people say this to me, I am curious about Christianity because Christians exhibit joy and peace in your lives. Being joyful is one of the marks that we are living a truly victorious life. True joy comes from abiding in Christ and the fruit of the Spirit will be evident for all to see.
In verses 4 to 8, Paul listed down his personal accomplishments as a Jew and no one can deny that Paul had an incredible curriculum vitae (“CV”). If the standard of righteousness was based works, Paul would be an A student. However, Paul then says in verses 7 to 8 that he counted all these personal achievements as loss for Christ, he counted them as loss compared to knowing Jesus Christ. Paul came to this realization that his supposed righteousness can never live up to the standard of a holy God. The legal relationship with God must be broken in other to make way for a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. We must stop trusting our own righteousness and live trusting in God’s righteousness given through by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. This is what differentiates Christianity from all other worldviews. You do not have to labour your way to be right with God and even if you do labour your way, you will fail miserably. Salvation is only attained by placing your faith in the finished work of the cross and not by our personal accomplishments. This is incredible and amazing grace of God. This is the reason why we all can rejoice without conditions and regardless of circumstances. Rejoicing in the Lord means knowing Jesus as our savior, redeemer and our treasure. The Christian joy is the great happiness that we feel because we have placed our faith in living God and a resurrected savior and that one day, we will all be resurrected to a new life.
a) Do we rejoice in the Lord always? No matter the circumstances? If not, why not?
b) Where is our source of joy?
c) Are you ever tempted to put your confidence in someone or something other than Christ?
Heavenly Father, we thank you for your presence that brings us joy and peace. Even in the midst of our difficulties, we know we can rejoice in You. You are our rock and our refuge. You are our ever present help in times of trouble. Forgive us, O Lord, where we boast in ourselves and where we were self-righteous. Help us see those areas in our lives that tempts us to put confidence in our flesh rather than Christ. Amen