Rejoice in the Lord always;
again I will say, rejoice.
As Christians, our greatest joy should be our salvation, and it should override and overcome any and all circumstances in life. Our joy in our salvation, in our eternal standing in the Lord should always be our greatest joy, and we should exult in our salvation above all else. As a result, we should be more thankful for our salvation than anything else, and the fact of our salvation should be both the foundation and the fountainhead of all of our praise. In Hebrews it is called a "so great salvation" and, indeed, it is just that. The Scripture tells us we are to make melody in our hearts to the Lord, and if you read through the Psalms you will see the greatest praise and thanksgiving, the greatest rejoicing, revolves around salvation.
The circumstances of the Philippians when Paul wrote this also gives us some insight into this command to rejoice. They were facing opposition from without that was causing suffering of the type that they had seen Paul go through when he was in Philippi (Philippians 1:27-30). They were faced with opposition from within as there were enemies of the cross (tares) among them (Philippians 3:17-19). They were also beset with internal bickering that was dividing the church (1:27, 2:2-4, 4:2-3). There was much going on that would be disheartening and discouraging to this body of believers. Which is why Paul starts of this section with the command to stand firm in the Lord. In light of all of this, we see the command to rejoice in this verse is for them to have a thoughtful response to their circumstances, not a blitheful, ignorant, Pollyanna view, but a knowing reflection of the greatness of their eternal spiritual state in comparison to the temporal circumstances they found themselves in.
Additionally, they already have joy, joy within, through the fruit of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Joy is second on the list of the fruit of the Spirit. It is only those who have the joy of the Lord who can truly rejoice in the Lord…in His reality, His nearness, His promises, His truth. Again, you rejoice in Him because of all that He is and all that you have in Him. Nehemiah 8:10 tells us, "The joy of the Lord is our strength." Joy steadies the fainting soul, it strengthens the weak soul, it anchors the wavering soul, it gives light to the distressed soul, it soothes the anxious soul, and it bolsters the vexed soul.
However, joy is what we have, rejoicing is what we do; and rejoicing in the Lord is key in standing firm in Him. Paul also tells the Thessalonians in Chapter 5 to rejoice always. So rejoicing is to be a state that the Christian is to live in, and a daily practice. In his commentary on Philippians Walter Hansen shares this, “The fulfillment of all other goals in the Christian walk flows out of the practice of the rejoicing in the Lord." If you think about it, you see how true this is. I have never seen an effective Christian who was not a rejoicing Christian.
This command to rejoice was given to the Philippians in the context of suffering, in the context of opposition, in the context of less than perfect circumstances, and so we see who they are rejoice in, it is the Lord, Himself. They are to rejoice in the Lord, not in their health, their wealth, their prosperity, their stuff, their job, their family, or their circumstances. Their object of joy is to be the Lord, who He is and all that they have in Him, which is all wrapped up in the package of salvation.
So with this in mind let's look at why we are to rejoice in the Lord, by looking at our reasons for rejoicing. And these reasons never change, even though our circumstances do.
II Corinthians 1:20 You rejoice in Him because in Him all the promises of God are Yea and Amen.
Philippians 4:13, John 15:5 You rejoice in Him because in Him you can do all things, but apart from Him you can do nothing.
Ephesians 1:3 You rejoice in Him because in Him you have been blessed with every spiritual blessing.
Colossians 2:3 You rejoice in Him because in Him you have all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
I Corinthians 1:24 you rejoice in Him because He is wisdom of God and the power of God.
Colossians 2:10 You rejoice in Him because in Him you have been made complete.
I Corinthians 1:30 You rejoice in Him because in Him are righteousness, sanctification and redemption.
Romans 8:1 You rejoice in Him for in Him there is no condemnation.
Ephesians 1:7 You rejoice in Him because in Him there is forgiveness of sins.
I Thessalonians 1:10 You rejoice in Him because in Him there is deliverance from the wrath to come.
Ephesians 1:10-11, I Peter 1:3-4 You rejoice in Him because in Him you have obtained an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, will not fade away, and which is reserved in heaven for you.
I Peter 1:5, 3:20-21 You rejoice in Him because in Him your salvation is protected by the power of God.
Ephesians 1:13 You rejoice in Him because in Him you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.
Ephesians 2:13, 3:12, Hebrews 4:16 You rejoice in Him for in Him you have been brought near to the throne of grace and in Him you have bold and confident access to the Father.
II Corinthians 5:17 You rejoice in Him for in Him you have been made new.
II Corinthians 5:18 You rejoice in Him for in Him you have been reconciled to God, and are no longer God’s enemy.
Ephesians 2:22 You rejoice in Him because in Him you are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.
Ephesians 2:16 You rejoice in Him because in Him you have been raised up and seated in the heavenly places.
Ephesians 1:7 You rejoice in Him because in Him are all the riches of grace.
Ephesians 4:21 You rejoice in Him for truth is in Him.
John 1:4, 11:25 You rejoice in Him for in Him is life eternal.
Acts 4:12, II Timothy 2:10, Hebrews 5:9 You rejoice in Him because salvation is in Him.
John 14:9, Hebrews 1:3 You rejoice in Him because in Him you have seen the Father.
Ephesians 2:5 You rejoice in Him because in Him you have been made alive.
Galatians 2:20 You rejoice in Him for because He now lives in you.
John 16:33 You rejoice for in Him you have peace.
This rejoicing is to be a persistent rejoicing, an active rejoicing, an intentional rejoicing…not a passive, reluctant, forced rejoicing. When we rejoice like this, in any and all circumstances, the joy of the Lord is truly our strength.
Let's rejoice today in the Lord, in all that He is, in all that He has done, in all that we have in Him. Let us rejoice in the greatness of His salvation that He has so graciously and magnanimously bestowed upon us. For the circumstances of this life are temporal, but His salvation and all that we have in it are eternal.