Transcribed from the Words of Life Radio Broadcast


Rejoicing is an important part of the life of a Christian. The book of Philippians shares some important passages, written by Paul, that are described throughout the book that talk about rejoicing.

But first, let’s look at some background about Philippi that comes from the book of Acts chapter 16. We know the Philippian church was begun quite simply on a bank of a river where we find that Lydia became a Christian. There doesn’t seem to be any synagogue there, but this is where they began to meet and Paul reached out and met her there. But this church was founded in the middle of controversy, of persecution.

Not long after that we find Paul being imprisoned by those folks and, remember, the conversion of the Philippian jailer and how Paul and Silas were there and the Philippian jailer became a Christian. So this was not a really pleasant place to be and it is a difficult time for Paul. We know that he withstood the controversy and persecution for God, not proudly for himself, but in serving God. As he wrote this, remember, Paul was imprisoned. He was in Rome and this was written about 60 to 64 AD while Paul was in prison and was in Rome due to his appeal to Caesar. He was dealing with the restrictions and discomforts and whatever problems he would have as a prisoner in Rome, but remember he got there by being on a shipwreck on the way, though the difficulties that he faced there were really a concern. And as he wrote this book, the book of Philippians, the central theme of this book is Jesus Christ. And he repeats this exhortation throughout the book for us to rejoice and for those folks to rejoice.

It is amazing to me when you consider that Paul, with all the difficulties we have described already, is a man who talks about rejoicing. It was calculated that with all the beatings and scourgings that are recorded that Paul experienced, that he was struck by whips or rods or something about 195 times. I can’t imagine anybody hitting that scarred back after so many times it had been hit. I can’t imagine enduring that either, but this is the man, Paul, who is rejoicing in Jesus Christ.

So let’s look in Philippians at some of those rejoicings that Paul did. It is going to come to a crescendo in Philippians 4:4 when we get to the verse that says: ‘Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again, rejoice’.

But, first, let’s look at Philippians chapter one where Paul talks about praying. This starts in verse three, ‘I thank my God every time I remember you in all my prayers for all of you. I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now’. Paul mentions this joy as he talks to God about these folks. He has joy in his heart as he remembers. And you know joy causes rejoicing. And sharing the gospel was important to Paul and he was firm in this and it was part of the joy that he had. He felt confident that these folks would not quit in their faithfulness to God.

The second one—and I want to move on to this one right now—chapter one starting in verse 15 down through the first part of verse 18. ,It is true that some preach the gospel out of envy and rivalry while others out of good will. The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here in defense of the gospel. The former preach out of selfish ambition, not sincerity, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter. The important thing is that in every-way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice’.

Paul was rejoicing that the gospel was being preached. Now this includes some discussion about those who were preaching for wrong motives. I am not sure what those motives were, but apparently they were selfish by nature. Paul could have been critical about these folks. He could have been saying they ought not preach it at all, but Paul did not do that. He wasn’t interested in himself and just his own self ministry. But the gospel was so important that Paul wanted to be sure it was being preached and he was thankful and he rejoiced because of it.

So I ask myself at times. Do I rejoice that the gospel is being spread by somebody other than me or by my church or by this ministry? Of course we should. If the gospel is being preached in a true way, if it is scripturally based, if it is accurate according to God’s Word, it is the gospel, and we need to praise God and rejoice that it is being preached, instead of roasting anybody else that might be preaching.

The gospel of Jesus Christ was most important to Paul.

Now that 18th verse we only read part of before. I will begin in the middle of that 18th verse of chapter one and read 19 as well. ‘Yes and I will continue to rejoice for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance’.

In addition to rejoicing for their prayers and rejoicing that the gospel was being spread, Paul was rejoicing in the Spirit of God that was given to him. This is the Holy Spirit. He was rejoicing because of that Holy Spirit who was living in him. Paul himself is the one, remember in Galatians, that listed the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control.

Now the second one of those was joy. Paul knew that one of those things listed as a fruit of the Spirit is joy. And Paul had that joy in him because he had the Holy Spirit living in him. The presence of the Holy Spirit allowed Paul to rejoice in spite of all that had happened to him. In 1 Thessalonians 1:6, also written by Paul, we find that the Thessalonian people welcomed with joy given by the Holy Spirit the message in spite of the suffering that they had experienced. Joy in suffering makes no earthly sense whatsoever, except in the Spirit of God. By the worldly sense, by the worldly way of thinking, having joy in suffering makes no logical sense at all. But in Jesus Christ suffering for Jesus Christ does, because of the power of this Holy Spirit.

Think of it this way. Something on the outside of us that happens can make us happy. Happiness depends on circumstances. The change in Jesus Christ that happens to us on the inside can bring joy and joy results in rejoicing. Joy does not depend on external circumstances, but what God has done on the inside. There can be no external or internal rejoicing without that joy in Jesus Christ.

Joy and rejoicing are mentioned in the Bible 330 times as best as I can find according to a list that I saw, while happiness is only listed 26 times. Joy is internal and results in rejoicing—that is what Paul had experienced.

In Philippians chapter two we start with verse one. ‘If you have any encouragements from being united with Christ, any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like minded, having the same love, being one in Spirit and purpose’.

So what is Paul telling us here? Even though he was a prisoner, he had joy in being like minded with fellow believers such as the folks who were the Philippians that he was writing to. We are drawn together with people who think like us. How much more are we drawn together in joy by people who are Christians who think like us, who have that joy of Jesus Christ inside of them? It is worthy of rejoicing when we are drawn together in mind and Spirit with other believers. As a result of this, we sing praises to God as we join together and we sing God’s praise. We do this because of that joy.

There is a song—and I am not going to sing it to you—but it goes, “Bind us together. Bind us together in love. There is only one God. There is only one king. There is only one body and this is why we sing. Bind us together.” We can rejoice in that being bound together in Jesus Christ. The writing of letters to Christian people is an important way to share that joy and encourage. And this is what Paul did to the church at Philippi and this is what we can do as well. We can write to another Christian and share that joy.

In Philippians chapter two down in verse 17 we find another., ‘But even if I am poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you so you, too, can be glad and rejoice with me’. Paul rejoices in being a sacrifice for the cause of Christ. Paul counted himself to be like a drink offering poured out before Christ and he rejoiced in that.

Now drink offerings in the Old Testament days were either wine or oil poured out. We find that Jacob did this back in Genesis 35. We find that there are other times when these drink offerings were poured out. We find David poured out water that had been given to him instead of drinking it, as an offering, as a sharing in rejoicing for God. And we find in the New Testament other people rejoicing because they were worthy for suffering for Christ. This is in Acts chapter five. We find people rejoicing that they had suffered for Jesus Christ.

Now I am not wanting to suffer pain and beatings any more than you are, but Jesus can give joy even in those times according to what we read in the Word.

Again, rejoicing makes no sense to the world, but it does in Jesus Christ. Moving down to Philippians chapter four, verse 10, we were looking at only the first part of that verse, ‘I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me’. Paul was thankful that they had renewed a concern for him. Now in what way had they done this? They had done this by actually sending him an offering, sending him a gift. Epaphroditus had delivered a gift to Paul. And this was essentially a thank you note back to these folks thanking them for their help and their support as they were bound together with Paul in their love and concern.

So by this giving, they had shared this joy. By giving part of what we have away, joy can be doubled. By dividing what we have with others, joy can be multiplied. And this is what these folks had done. They were sharing in the joy of Jesus Christ, because of the good things that they had been given that they shared with Paul, and Paul was sharing in the gospel message for Jesus Christ.

In the book of Acts chapter 20, verse 35, Luke quotes what Jesus says, not written in the gospels, but it is in the book of Acts, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’. Paul understood this. The Philippians understood this and they can rejoice in it.

This brings us to the last verse that I want to consider. Philippians 4:4 says, ‘Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say, rejoice’.

Rejoice in the Lord always. There is a song like that. Perhaps you have sung it and maybe sung it as a round or enjoyed that singing. Paul felt strongly about this and he repeated, “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say, rejoice.” He said it twice.

Now let’s break this down just for a moment. Rejoice. The word rejoice, itself, is to be delightful, a jubilee of the soul. It is demonstrated in peace. It sparkles. It shines. It sings. And you can see it. You can see the rejoicing of somebody else, because they are serving God and rejoicing in God.

Rejoice is stimulating. It urges other people to share and enjoy the joy of Jesus Christ. It is influential. Sinners are attracted to Jesus Christ because of the joy of the saints. It is like honey. If we as Christians walk around with sad faces like, oh, I have to serve God today, that is not going to work. We share that joy of Jesus Christ. It is contagious and it brings gladness to others. Not only that, it is commanded in the Bible. So we are expected to rejoice. Rejoice, but in what? In the Lord or in whom, I should say. Not in self, not in temporary things, not in personal things, not in politics, not in bragging, even though, sometimes as a parent it is hard not to brag about our kids, but he is saying, “Don’t be bragging. Rejoice in Jesus Christ.” Not even in our own successes and in the churches and things like this. We need to rejoice in Jesus Christ.

Luke tells us in chapter 10 to rejoice that our names have been written in heaven. How important that is.

How could a Christian ever rejoice outside of the Lord? And when should we do this? Paul wrote: Rejoice in the Lord always. All the time. This is not a meaningless word, not a byword, not just saying, “Praise the Lord or rejoice every time something happens,” but it requires us to constantly be aware of God’s blessings and to remain with a heart of rejoicing.

Remember, rejoicing is eternal.

I will tell you an interesting story. I stopped along the road one day seeing a lady that I knew that had a flat tire. And she asked me instead of fixing the tire to just go tell her husband who was located down the road just a little ways doing something. And I went down and I told the gentleman, “Your wife is down the road and she has a flat tire.”

He looked at me and says, “Praise the Lord.”

Now I kind of wondered what he was talking about at first. Is he praising God that his wife was off the side of the road with a flat tire? I don’t think so. Knowing this man, he was praising God that someone had come to tell him and praising God that his wife was safe at least and not in the middle of the road or not suffering some accident. He was praising God because of God’s blessings and it was just natural for him to do that.

It is easy for us to get down. It is easy for us to look at ourselves and feel sorry for ourselves and fail to rejoice. But that is not what we are supposed to do.

How in the world can we do this? Only by the power of the Holy Spirit. Remember, the fruit of the Spirit is joy. One of those listed in that fruit is joy. Who can rejoice as Paul did? How can we do this? Only people who know the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior can do this. All other rejoicing is actually pretentious and superficial and pretty short. Without Christ there is no real basis of enjoying and rejoicing.

The calendar for people living in sin has some days where you can enjoy things a little bit, holidays and festivals and so forth. And, you know, those things remind me of fireworks. They flash. They pop. And they are over. And the joy is finished, no matter what the holiday is.

But the joy in Jesus Christ lasts and it is eternal. It lasts forever. Can you rejoice today that your name is written in heaven, that you know Jesus Christ as Savior? If you can’t, you need to consider Jesus Christ today. We pray that God will bless you in some way and find that you have the convictions that are needed to rejoice in Jesus Christ.

If we can help you in this, write to us. We will be glad to share information or passages of Scripture or whatever we can. And if you are a Christian, we pray that you are rejoicing in Jesus Christ.

Let’s pray.

Lord, we thank you that we can rejoice in Jesus and we pray that you will bless all those who have heard this today. Help us to all be rejoicing in Jesus. And if there are those who can’t because they do not know Jesus, we pray that you will bring those convictions today in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Wayne Hobbs is a  retired educator. He  lives in Sellersburg, IN and worships with the Sellersburg Church of Christ.