Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.
2 I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. 3 Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. – Philippians 4:1-9
“Do it again, Daddy! Do it again! Again!” He was having a great time at my arms’ expense. I was tossing him into the air – this delightful little boy. And he was loving it. So was I. I was glad to do it again, and again, and again. Such is the love of a dad for his son. Such is the love of a child for a safe thrill.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say rejoice. Why this command? Why the “again”? It’s not because of the sheer glee of it. It’s not because it’s fun. In fact rejoicing in the Lord may actually be in the face of some very un-fun times and events. After all, these words were written from prison. This is not a fun time for Paul. These were not fun circumstances. Yet he urges joy.
Joy is the proper response to the presence of God. Joy is enhanced as we consider the great treasure Jesus is and offers. Joy is experienced in the deep love he has for us. Joy is expressed in a heart of praise and thanks for God’s gifts, God’s mercy, and God’s presence. It is expressed by acts of kindness and forbearance. Joy is embraced in the calm of confidence in God’s gifts and prayerful attitude.
We need this reminder, for we live in a fallen world. COVID strikes. Friends and family members die. Tempers flare. Patience runs all too thin. Joy gets squeezed out of our hearts and in its place come frustration, worry, anxiety, hopelessness, fear, and pain.
The call to joy is a call to Jesus. He provides the reminder and the cause for true joy. He opens the door to God’s storehouse of blessing. He welcomes us in our time of need. He replaces broken hearts with a deep joy that cannot be explained only embraced.
Do it again, Jesus! Do it again! Fill our hearts with the joy of your salvation. Enliven us with the dancing that replaces mourning. Embolden us with courage born of your delight in place of the timidity of defeat. Do it again! Forgive us. Renew us. Fill our hearts with joy. Then we can sing with the Psalmist:
Restore unto me the joy of your salvation and uphold me with your free Spirit.
Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.
– Psalm 51:12-13