Rejoice in the Lord
Speaker: Dr. Harold J. Sala | Series: Guidelines For Living | Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Philippians 4:4
There’s a practice which has become relatively common. A waitress brings you your food and says, “Enjoy!” It isn’t that I don’t appreciate that gracious word of cheer, but there’s something about saying “enjoy” that always bothers me. It may be because enjoy is a transitive verb which requires an object. I nod and say, “Thank you!” when I really feel like saying, “Enjoy what? The meal? The company of friends? Enjoy the beautiful day which God has given to us? Or just enjoy being alive?”
Enjoy! That word relates to another word, one which is also misunderstood–the word, “rejoice!” Some words are part of a language which few understand, and such is the word, “rejoice!” Both of these words, enjoy and rejoice, have “joy” at their root meaning. Are you beginning to see why we use words which few understand? Some words are coined for use in heaven and though they are used on earth, we can’t fully understand their meaning until we get there. Such is the word joy.
A man plodding through life can “enjoy” a meal, or the weather, or the company of friends, but only those with a heaven connection can begin to fathom what it really means to “rejoice!” It is no wonder that G. K. Chesterton said that “joy…is the gigantic secret of the Christian,” probably the best-kept secret of the church.
In his poignant book, Jesus Man of Joy, Wirt made the point that in the life of a believer, joy is the result of a God-connection. He wrote, “…it comes with our Lord’s prepaid package of salvation, direct from heaven, and furnishes its own proof of authenticity.” Dr. Wirt’s book is powerful medicine for those who think that being a Christian equates to wearing black, having a long face, and drinking vinegar. He charges that the church has been blanketed with “religious smog” and that with our attempt to recognize the holiness of God, we have pushed Him away and draped Him in black.
“Jesus,” wrote Wirt, “was a man of such joy, such merriment, such gladness of spirit, such freedom and openness, that He was irresistible.” Wirt, who held a Ph.D. from the University of Edinburgh, believed that the image of a Jesus popularized by the impression of the shroud of Turin frightens people. He was convinced that the real Jesus was a man of joy, one to whom people were drawn, a man of warmth and affirmation. And he contended that this same joy should be our birthright as God’s children. He was convinced that “instead of subduing our joy and leaving it outside in the church parking lot, we should be expressing it and making it the accompaniment of everything we do, both in and out church….”
I’ll tell you one thing for sure. Wirt’s life as well as his book convinced me that we’ve missed something powerful, something meaningful, and something which can and should be an integral part of our lives. Joy is powerful medicine for the healing of our lives, generated by the indwelling presence of God’s Holy Spirit. Remember, as Paul told us, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy…” and so forth (Galatians 5:22). Unlike happiness, which is dependent on your circumstances–your health, your environment, your immediate world–joy can flood your heart no matter where you are or how you feel. I’m wondering how people would respond if a waitress served a meal and said, “Rejoice!” What kind of puzzled expressions might she get? Yet for the child of God, that admonition or expression, “Rejoice!” is right on target. Yes, rejoice!
(See Sherwood Wirt’s Jesus Man of Joy printed by Thomas Nelson Publishers).
Resource reading: Philippians 4:1-13.