Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you.
(Philippians 3:1 ESV)
There are many things in life that can make us happy. Paul had just received a monetary gift from the Philippians which probably eased his mind a bit considering his situation (being in prison with no means of earning a living). We may win the lottery, or buy a new house, or see our favorite team win a championship. But none of those are reasons to rejoice.
The world offers many ways to seemingly be happy. But that is a counterfeit happiness. In this next section Paul will discuss a false belief system that was confusing believers. Before he gets into that he reminds his readers that first and foremost our joy – our focus – needs to be on God.
When we stay focused on God and rejoice in Him and not our circumstances we will be “safe”. We will be safe from all that surrounds us and tempts us to fall into a false way of thinking, as Paul will shortly explain. Joy in the Lord brings strength [Nehemiah 8:10]. It protects us from evil.
Paul felt is necessary and appropriate to remind us of this truth because its easy to forget. Human beings tend to be forgetful. Its never a bad idea to continue to remind ourselves of God’s truth, especially when we are going through tough times. Paul was in prison facing possible beheading, yet he has repeatedly expressed his joy in this letter. He could rejoice despite his situation because he kept Jesus in the forefront of his mind.
Our circumstances constantly change. If we are focused on them our emotions will follow. But if we are focused on our God, who loves us unconditionally and who died so we could spend eternity in heaven, we will undoubtedly have joy [Psalm 16:8-9]. That joy will far exceed any counterfeit happiness the world can offer [Psalm 4:7].
Notice that rejoicing in the Lord is an emotional response to an intellectual truth. Christianity is not simply a blind faith that makes one feel good. It is based on the fact that while we were sinners God demonstrated His love for us by sending His Son to die for us [Romans 5:8]. This is a rock-solid truth that will not change. It has been true since day one in the Garden of Eden and it remains true today.
Knowing the truth is cause for rejoicing. It is also the only way to avoid the false teachings that permeate our world. Paul will expound on that in the next few verses.
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