Learning to Rejoice With Christ

Learning to Rejoice With Christ

Learning to Rejoice With Christ

There are times in life when one takes time to enjoy. The birth of a child. An adoption. A birthday. When one graduates. Life is a journey full of experiences – some helpful, some wonderful, and some painful. But joy can happen at other times as well.

The fourth way to be a Christian STAR is to rejoice. When you behold Jesus, you are looking to Jesus and you are holding onto Jesus. You serve the God you worship. Serving or ministry is linked to worship. The more you worship Jesus, the more you will want to serve Jesus out of a sense of joy.

Joy is the theme of the book of Philippians. In these verses, we see that if a Christian is really going to shine in life, they should live out of a sense of joy. As a matter of fact, Paul emphasizes joy as a command for the Christian.

BE POSITIVE AND JOYOUS

He says: “be positive” and “be joyous” in Philippians 2:18:

In the same way you should also be glad and rejoice with me.” (Philippians 2:18, CSB)

He ends this section with a command to be joyous. He actually gives a double command: be positive and be joyous. Joy by its very nature is positive. The first word: “to be glad” is the same word where we get “charismatic.” The second word: “rejoice with” is a word that means we happy with each other. Paul wants to remind the Philippians that this joy can be shared. Joy is not exclusive, it is inclusive.

But joy is a theme that we see throughout this section of Philippians. Paul tells us that our lives should be wrapped up in joy. He gives us three images or metaphors that reveal these qualities of joy. In other words, Paul reveals three images that show how we can be positive and joyous today, tomorrow, and for eternity.

THREE IMAGES OF JOY

1. The joy of satisfaction – future eternal joy (joy hereafter) – (Philippians 2:16)

by holding firm to the word of life. Then I can boast in the day of Christ that I didn’t run or labor for nothing.” (Philippians 2:16, CSB)

Paul has joy because He knows where he is going. He knows that when he leaves this life, it will be with a sense of satisfaction. Like an athlete who has completed a race, Paul knows that he will have the joy of accomplishment and completion. Have you ever looked back at your life and thought to yourself: Have I accomplished anything significant? Has my life had meaning? Has it been worth it?

My wife and I celebrated 16 years of marriage this week. To me, it feels like it has quickly passed. 16 years has felt like 16 minutes. That’s because it has been a joy. Now, I didn’t say it has been easy. Living with me ain’t easy sometimes. But I look back at the sixteen years Heike and I have spent together and I look at what God has done through us in our marriage. It gives me a sense of satisfaction.

The best mindset from which to serve Jesus is out of joy. Some serve out of obligation. They feel that they are forced to serve Jesus. It becomes a form of work. Worship becomes a form of forced ritual that someone engages because they have to look like they love Jesus. Others don’t serve Jesus because they don’t care about Him. They come to play. Worship becomes a concert and performance. Worship becomes a party for the self. Anyone who cares about themselves will not care about Jesus or other people.

Paul says that he will “boast” on the day of Christ. How can Paul say this? I think the boast is not in himself. Instead, Paul will boast of everything that Jesus has done. Paul is able to “hold firm” to the word of life because of his joy. Paul’s joy is centered on the fact that Christ has done the work of salvation. His salvation is secure and so Paul can hold firm.

Christ’s past work secures my future.

2. The joy of work – present joy in service

by holding firm to the word of life. Then I can boast in the day of Christ that I didn’t run or labor for nothing.” (Philippians 2:16, CSB)

The work or labor here that Paul speaks about is the word for weaving. Paul was a tentmaker. He worked while he served others. You and I can be positive and joyous in our work. Our ultimate employer is God. We work for an earthly employer, even if we are self-employed. But we also work for God.

There are two ways to look the joy of work here. First, Paul describes it as a labor. He is using the image of a piece of cloth that is badly woven and therefore useless. No one would pay for such a product. It would be disqualified.

Joy is necessary for me to “work out” my salvation. It contributes to my growth. It contributes to my well-being. It is an essential ingredient in living the Christian life. Jesus said that the thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy. The devil is out to destroy your joy.

The devil wants to make you happy about the wrong things. Joy is happiness and contentment found in God, despite my circumstances. The devil wants to make you sad, mad, and afraid. I realize that it is hard to find joy in the most depressing and difficult of circumstances. But we have to realize that even when our circumstances or our feelings are not so great, we can still have joy. Joy gives me contentment in my circumstances.

“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Joy becomes a source of strength for me when I am saddened by my circumstances. My emotions do not determine my state of mind. My present circumstances do not determine my future. My past does not rule my present or future.

3. The joy of suffering – present joy in sacrifice

But even if I am poured out as a drink offering on the sacrificial service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. In the same way you should also be glad and rejoice with me.” (Philippians 2:17–18, CSB)

Do you feel as though you’ve poured out your life like a sacrifice and now your cup is empty? Does it seem as though you have spent your life giving and giving, you’ve been there for everyone, and now you have nothing? Perhaps you are at a point in life where you see your children becoming increasingly independent and needing you less, just as you are also having to deal with the heartache of a husband who seems to have thrown you aside. Are you wondering what it has all been for?

You may have invested your life in your family, and from the looks of it, all is for naught. But perhaps the beauty of what your efforts have produced will not truly be seen until a later time. God has promised to repay us for the years the locusts have eaten.

Don’t be discouraged. Trust God. The future may hold treasures that are completely hidden from you now, but in God’s perfect timing they will one day be revealed.1

We can have joy today when we submit to Jesus because we are assured of joy for eternity. A Christian can hold their head up high today because they have a future that will last for eternity – a future to look forward to. We sacrifice in service to our Lord and Master Jesus Christ today because we will live happily ever after – forever. Christ’s past work secures my future and impacts my present.

When William Borden graduated from a Chicago high school in 1904, he was heir to the Borden Dairy estate, which made him a millionaire. For his graduation present, his parents gave him a trip around the world. As the young man traveled through Asia, the Middle East, and Europe, he felt a growing burden for the world’s hurting people. Finally, Borden wrote home to say, “I’m going to give my life to prepare for the mission field.” At the same time, he wrote two words in the back of his Bible: “No reserves.”

During his college years at Yale University, Borden became a pillar in the Christian community. One entry in his personal journal that defined the source of his spiritual strength simply said, “Say no to self and yes to Jesus every time.”

During his first semester at Yale, Borden started a small prayer group that mushroomed into a movement that spread across the campus. By the end of his first year, 150 freshmen were meeting for weekly Bible study and prayer. By the time Bill Borden was a senior, one thousand of Yale’s thirteen hundred students were meeting in such groups.

Borden met with fellow Christians to make sure every student on campus heard the gospel. Often he ministered to the poor in the streets of New Haven. But his real passion was missions. Once he narrowed his missionary call to the Kansu people in China, Borden never wavered.

Upon graduation from Yale, Borden wrote two more words in the back of his Bible: “No retreats.” He turned down several high-paying job offers and enrolled in seminary. After graduating, he went to Egypt to learn Arabic so he could work with Muslims in China. While in Egypt, Borden came down with spinal meningitis. Within a month he was dead at age twenty-five.

Prior to his death, Borden wrote two more words in his Bible. Underneath the words “No reserves” and “No retreats,” he wrote, “No regrets.”2

1 Linda W. Rooks, Broken Heart on Hold: Surviving Separation (Colorado Springs, CO: David C Cook, 2013).

2 Craig Brian Larson and Phyllis Ten Elshof, 1001 Illustrations That Connect (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 2008), 276–277. Originally from Mrs. Howard Taylor, Borden of Yale (Bethany, 1988)

Photo by Lance Grandahl on Unsplash

Other Links:

How to Be a Christian STAR Part 1 – Jesus Christ SuperSTAR

How to Be a Christian STAR Part 2 – Learning to Share

How to Be a Christian STAR Part 3 – Learning to Thrive in This Life by Trusting God

How to Be a Christian STAR Part 4 – Learning to Be a Christian STAR in Today’s Culture

 


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