AND AGAIN I SAY …
"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”
I know I have written on this verse before, but I just needed to think about it some more today. I like this verse because it reminds me of completeness. It starts and ends with the same thing - like bookends. Rejoice! There is no question about its subject. We are to be joyful; that's what "rejoice" means. The actual dictionary definition is: "to feel joy or great delight." In the text the word is a present active imperative. That means that "rejoice" is an instruction or a command that Christians are to follow here and now, and that they are to continue to follow in the future. That interpretation is then backed up by the fact that Paul didn't just say "rejoice," he a said "rejoice always"!
And he didn't simply say to have joy or feel delight in something or other, he specifically said: "rejoice in the Lord." As I write this, there are a lot of people around Houston who are overjoyed because the Texans, our local NFL franchise, has won all but one of their games. You can be joyful because you have a new car or because you got a new job. Or you can be delighted that you favorite team is winning . . . this isn't about that. This is about finding joy in what God is doing in you and for you and through you. It is coming to a realization of what God's grace is really all about and being overwhelmed with gratitude and wonder at the love and faithfulness of your Creator. It is about finding your purpose and settling your fears. It is about knowing with certainty that, whatever your life situation, you are loved and you are safe.
But why did Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, find it necessary to "say it again"? I think it is because we are so prone to leave God out of the picture and let worldliness and circumstances steal our joy. Perhaps the Holy Spirit wanted this truth to lodge in two places, first in our minds and then in our hearts. We know that real joy comes from our relationship with God, but we also need to embrace Him and learn to rest in His love. God's provision doesn't come and go; His love doesn't wax and wane.
As the psalmist wrote so long ago: "This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." So, "I will say it again: Rejoice!”
-- Pastor Keith Andrews