Rejoicing in the Lord
In the third chapter of his letter to the church in Philippi, the Apostle Paul exhorts his readers to “rejoice in the Lord” (Philippians 3:1). Up to this point in the letter, Paul has touched on several key themes: his imprisonment for Christ, Christ’s example of humility, Paul’s example of service, Timothy’s example of service, and Ephaphroditus’ example of service. Paul is saying that we are to rejoice in the Lord, or “be glad” in the Lord because of the selfless examples of Jesus, Paul, Timothy, and Epaphroditus. He is also saying we should not only be glad, but we should follow in their footsteps, as we too are living examples of what it means to be a selfless servant of the gospel. To do this faithfully, we must renounce ourselves. Rejoice in the Lord. Renounce yourself. Those are the two great challenges in this verse. Rejoicing in the Lord requires us to renounce ourselves. But make no mistake; renouncing yourself is hard for anyone to do consistently. Because even when we see clear evidence of God working, we can easily be tempted to make ourselves or others the focus of our rejoicing. Here is a good litmus test question to determine if you truly are rejoicing in the Lord: Do you feel more loved by God when He makes much of you; or do you feel more loved by God when He gives you the ability to make much of Him? That exact question was presented to me over fifteen years ago by a pastor at a gathering of college students. Needless to say, it has stuck with me ever since. Rejoicing in the Lord when things go our way, when others recognize us, or when our prayers are answered in the way we had hoped. When those things happen, we can feel like God loves us because He is making much of us. However, we must remember to keep God the focus of our rejoicing. Remember this: we can’t rejoice in the Lord if we do not renounce ourselves. That means being willing to give God every bit of the credit for every part of your being. It means recognizing God’s grace (work) in your life and making much of His name instead of your own!
Today, I encourage you to rejoice in the Lord.