11 Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.12 Greet one another with a holy kiss. 13 All God’s people here send their greetings. 14 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. — 2 Cor. 13:11-14 NIV
Rejoice! Isn’t it amazing that after all Paul has gone through and was still going through at this time, that he could say rejoice? Through all the persecutions, beatings, attempts on his life and bearing the burden of wayward people in the churches he had established, Paul was still rejoicing and encouraging others to continue in faithfulness. One of our highest priorities as Christians should be to pray for and encourage others. Compared to what Paul went through and what our brothers and sisters in other countries are going through today, anything we have to suffer through is certainly “a light affliction”. Yet, some of us are so focused on our own problems that we walk around like Eeyore in Winnie the Pooh thinking “Woe is me.”. All of us need more encouragement and more reminding of who we are in Christ Jesus. We need to “zoom out” on our lives and look at the whole panorama that God has given us. The more time we spend focused on Jesus and others, the less time we will have to focus on our own issues. When we take time to fellowship with the Holy Spirit, we find that our spirits are lifted and we can truly rejoice.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.– Phil. 4:4-7
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
We, who have been chosen by God and saved by His gift of Jesus dying on the cross, have a great responsibility to carry the message forward. We have received the commission and we must go forth. Not everyone will be glad to hear the Good News and not everyone will accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. But that does not relieve us of our responsibility to tell it everywhere we go. We are told that the angels in heaven rejoice greatly when a lost soul comes home. So, let’s make it our goal to keep the angels rejoicing continuously by leading people to Jesus Christ. Then when Jesus welcomes us home, we can just join in the festivities.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.–Phil. 4:4-8 NIV
Some of the things that Paul wrote are hard for us to understand. “rejoice in the Lord always” and “pray without ceasing” come to mind. In our busy society how does one spend 15 minutes a day rejoicing and praying, much less continually, and still get everything accomplished. I believe that what seems impossible is the key to how we accomplish Paul’s admonitions. Happiness is caused by externals and is temporary. We sometimes confuse that with joy, which is internal and eternal because it is given to us by God. “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” What God gives to us cannot be taken away from us. We can lose our focus on the joy but it is still there all the time. Praying is a gift from God as well as an attitude, not a body position. we can mentally pray while doing anything else. Verse 8 is the key to being prayerful and joyful all the time. We need to change our thought patterns so that they focus on the goodness and mercies of God instead of the sin in the world around us. Then we can enjoy the joy and thank God for it.