“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” Philippians 4:4 (NKJV)
If you’ve ever watched any of the Winnie The Pooh cartoons you know who Eeyore is. Eeyore is a donkey that is perpetually downcast. No matter how bright the day is Eeyore can find a downside to it. Eeyore doesn’t really complain a lot but the very tone of his voice, the way he hangs his head and the things he says convey that Eeyore is gloomy.
I mention this because it seems that we have a lot of Eeyore Christians in our day. No matter how good things are going they can always point you to the downside of it. They may not complain a lot but their general mopey behavior, the tone of their voice and the things they say let you know that they are gloomy.
I’m not talking about generally happy people who have a bad day or two. I’m talking about people that after being around them a while you begin to wonder if anything good has ever happened to them in their lives. The way some bewail the hardships of their lives you would think they get a beating every day whether they need it or not or that they alternate between having their dog killed one day and their best friend on the next.
One of the things I’ve come to realize is that many times Christians are some of the least joyful people I know. Christians ought to be the most joyful people around. Instead, many times we seem more miserable and have less joy than those who do not know Christ. That’s sad and if we are the Christian without joy, it ought to bother us.
I fully understand that there are times when it’s hard to have joy. There are trials and hardships that come into our lives that will absolutely destroy our joy if we aren’t careful. I’ve been there and I know. However, even in these times there should be joy.
Believers are to rejoice in the Lord always. This means we are to rejoice in the darkness and not just the light. We are to rejoice when life is hard and not just when it’s easy. We are to rejoice in the valley and not just on the mountain top. We are to rejoice in the Lord always.
Rejoice is the verb form of the noun joy. According to dictionary.com, the word rejoice means, “to be glad; to take delight in”. So when we are rejoicing we are glad about something or we are taking delight in something. Joy is “an emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying”. So when we have joy it is because something exceptionally good or satisfying has brought this joy into our lives. Rejoicing is simply joy in action.
To some the idea of joy and rejoicing in the Christian life sounds odd. For many their idea of the Christian life has been shaped by images of dour, angry people that not only live joyless lives themselves but also seem to have the goal of keeping everyone around them from having joy.
It is very important for us to understand that joy and rejoicing are Christian virtues and Biblical words. The word joy in its forms is found around 200 times in our English Bibles. Rejoice in its forms is found over 200 times in our English Bibles. The Bible frequently speaks of believers having delight, gladness, pleasure and many other things. With all the references to joy in the Scriptures, it is somewhat tragic that to so many people, living in so many places, living the Christian life means to live a life devoid of joy.
It is important to understand that Christian joy is somewhat different the joy of the world. Where the world offers multiple sources of joy, there is only one source for Christian joy and that is Jesus. This is Paul’s point in when he tells us to rejoice in the Lord. Paul is saying that Jesus is the greatest, ultimate and really only source of lasting and complete joy there is.
I like how one pastor defines the joy of the Lord. He says it is a deep, durable, delight in Jesus that ruins you for anything else. The joy we get from Jesus is deep because we get the full measure of it. It fills and affects all of our lives. It fully satisfies our longing for joy.
It’s durable because it stays with us and sustains us through the hard times of life and not just the good. It’s a delight not the mere discharge of a duty or just fulfilling a moral obligation. This kind of joy moves us beyond the “have to’s”, “got to’s” and “need to’s” that are all too often associated with following and serving Jesus. It brings us into the world of the “want to’s”, “get to’s”, “glad to’s” and “excited to’s” that are all too often missing in our following and serving Jesus.
It’s not limited to joy in what Jesus can do for us, but also in who Jesus is. It recognizes His greatness, His majesty and that Jesus Himself is the best thing there is. When you experience this joy, it ruins you for anything else because everything else falls so short in comparison.
This is what it means to rejoice in the Lord. It is a deep, durable delight in Jesus that ruins us for everything else. This kind of joy only comes when Jesus is the source and foundation of our joy. So what do we do if we don’t have this joy? If we are to have this joy there three personal issues we have to deal with.
Our unbelief. Do you really believe it’s possible to live this way? Do you really believe that Jesus can give you this kind of joy? The honest fact is that some don’t. Before you can have a deep, durable delight in Jesus that ruins you for everything else, you’re going to have to believe that Jesus really can give you this kind of joy.
Our attitude. Do you really want this kind of joy? Do you want to live a life that find greater joy in Jesus than in anything this world offers? Do really you want a deep, durable delight in Jesus that ruins you for everything else? The sad reality is that some don’t. Some like to gripe and complain. Some like to meditate on all the injustices done to them. Some like to criticize and judge. Before you can have a deep, durable delight in Jesus that ruins you for everything else, you will have to repent the attitudes you have that keep you from this joy, confess them as sin and forsake them.
Our focus. Do you really want Jesus to be the source and foundation of your joy? Do you really want to find greater joy in Jesus than you find in food, sex, sin, money, vacation or toys? Do you really want Jesus to be the ultimate source and foundation of your joy? You cannot come to Jesus and say, “Jesus I really want this joy but I’m still going to try and make _____ the source and foundation of my joy instead of you.” That absolutely will not work. You must want Jesus to be the source and foundation of your joy before you can have this deep durable delight in Jesus that ruins you for everything else.
Reject the Eeyore Christian mentality and rejoice in the Lord.