Worship – Rejoice always


Phil 4:4-9

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!

How often is it that our joy ebbs and flows according to the circumstances that surround us? When the cards are up, so is our joy but when they’re down, so are we. The Apostle Paul speaks about joy as being a consistent experience for the believer. So how do we detach our joy from our circumstantial experiences and give it its own legs to stand on?

It appears in this text to be a command given by Paul, he instructs us to rejoice. Rejoice is an action word, something for the believer to apply regularly, or in Paul’s words, always. It sounds to me like a regular practice or a habit. We know that the action of rejoicing is an outward expression of joy that is felt within. It seems to be the result of joy that wells up within in response to an external stimulus.

However, could it be that the instruction given by Paul is something that turns that process on its head? Instead of the action of rejoicing being a result of something, it is rather the cause. Instead of waiting for an outside stimulus to spark your joy which is expressed through rejoicing, Paul is presenting a practice of rejoicing which becomes the stimulus for joy to be experienced within. Therefore allowing our joy to not be dependant on outside circumstances but rather upon our commitment to the practice of rejoicing.

Imagine we could get this right! That we could be in complete control of our joy tanks. What effect would it have on our stress levels and in turn, our physical and mental health? How would we being joyful all the time affect our relationships? We all know a grumpy husband and dad are the worst kind of both of those things. So it seems that Paul might be giving us a secret that, if unlocked, could be what the entire world is looking for. What if we began to model this way of living? Surely everyone would want a piece of the action.

So I guess the major trick is, finding something to rejoice about. We know the hot topics that are readily on the tip of our tongues to complain about, but what is it that we could possibly ALWAYS rejoice about?

Luke 10:20Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven

 1 Peter 1:8-9Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

 I think the question to be asked when we find ourselves stumbling in the dark to find something to rejoice about is, how real is our salvation? How real is it to us that we were objects of wrath but God who is rich in mercy made us alive with Christ, saved us by grace and seated us with him in heavenly places? Therein lies the source of our worship, and it’s the act of worship that informs the state of our hearts aka the wellspring of life.

In the words of Dallas Willard, ‘we do not have to live under the thumb of our circumstances’. Therefore, the state of the Christian’s inner world is not led by their outward experience but by the habits of rejoicing, thanksgiving, and praise in response to God’s mercy.

By Paul Edy