Today, people love to enjoy themselves. Looking for enjoyment has become a pre-occupation of the developed world. They seek situations in which they can have fun, play games, watch shows and much more. Planning for weekends and holidays are special times to rejoice.
Our thoughts were sparked by the number of times Paul uses the word “rejoice” in Philippians. What kind of rejoicing is he writing about? It is a contrast to most of the rejoicing, which happens today. Yesterday we read about Paul sending back to Philippi a brother who had been ill whilst with Paul, “near to death. But God had mercy on him, but not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow on sorrow. I am the more eager to send him therefore that you may rejoice at seeing him again” (Philippians 2:27,28). That is a good reason for rejoicing.
Philippians 3 starts with, “Finally my brothers, rejoice in the Lord”. Rejoice about what? From when Paul was converted many troubles came into his life but, but he writes, “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord … forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think in this way … let us hold true to what we have attained” (Philippians 3:8,13-16).
In all these things Paul rejoices, summing up this attitude in his final chapter, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say rejoice” (Philippians 4:4). In Romans he put it in just three words, “Rejoice in hope” (Romans 12:12). But what is this hope? Peter answers when he writes of “salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice” (1 Peter 1:5,6). But Peter lived in difficult times and this could soon be our situation, if it is not so already, so note his words, “do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you … but rejoice insofar as you share in Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed” (1 Peter 4:12,13).