Note: The devotional that follows, as well as subsequent posts in this series, originally were written for and appeared as anonymous publications in the bulletins of a local church. They have also been published at the Do Not Be Surprised Blog; however, considering the joy (no pun intended) which resulted from the composition of this series, and the limited audience to which these articles were initially exposed, it seemed appropriate to also share them here.
As our Lord instructed His disciples just hours before His death, He taught them doctrine and He shared with them warnings, but above all, He offered them joy and hope (John 16:20-22).
Christians are commanded to rejoice, and not just occasionally or when circumstances are favorable; no, Christians are to rejoice always.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! (Phil 4:4; cf. 1 Thess 5:16)
The world’s version of joy is one of transient, and oftentimes mere tangible, happiness. It is fleeting, and may be rooted in material goods or wealth, earthly relationships, or even sin. The joy of an unbeliever is dependent on his current situation and circumstances; it is subject to change at any moment.
The joy of a Christian, however, ought not be shaken by the inevitably changing conditions of life. The steadfast joy of a child of God is a distinguishing mark that sets believers apart from the unbelieving world. No temporal, earthly circumstance should diminish the joy of one who has been saved by Christ. If we are commanded to rejoice, then we are in sin if we allow the events of this life to distract our focus from the ultimate joy that is ours in Christ.
This means that we not only rejoice in times of ease and goodwill, but we also rejoice in times of trial (Jas 1:2). It means we rejoice in suffering and persecution (Matt 5:10-12; 1 Pet 4:13).
We rejoice because our Lord set the ultimate example of joy in all situations (Heb 12:2). We rejoice because our joy is a blessing bestowed on us by His Spirit (Rom 14:17; Gal 5:22). Above all, we rejoice because of who God is and what He has done.
Christian, has your joy been diminished by the worries of this passing age? If so, remember the command of Scripture: Rejoice always.