Paul tells us that even though there is much to do and understand regarding our walk with Jesus; above all we are to rejoice in the Lord. Rejoice is often over looked or tied into the word joy. The thought or question that comes up often is how we can remain happy with all the pressures in life.
Philippians 3:1 “1 Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe.
Paul is not using the word “finally” as the beginning of the end of his letter, but rather as an emphasis on something that remains or continues long after something else is over. Finally comes from the Greek work LOIPON which literally means “as for the remaining or rest”. Remember that it was not Paul that broke his letters up into chapters and verses, but the authors that translated the books of the bible. This was done for the sole purpose of reference and study. Without this in mind it is easy to lose the pattern of thought from the entire letter and the beginning of this chapter with this verse is an example of the chapters and verses getting in the way of the overall heart of the letter. Paul has just encouraged the Philippians in their heart toward giving, that the next step was to live as Christ and have the mind of Christ reaching out to and serving others. He had challenged them to let their conduct in the natural be worthy of the gospel of Christ. Paul had just pointed them to an understanding of servant hood which is the antidote for a selfish lifestyle, and the servant’s heart was the unity needed in the church. So far Paul’s letter to the Philippians was an encouragement to understand fully what Jesus did for them and us on the cross and to be “light bearers” to the world. He then instructed them and us to look for Godly proven character in people and esteem those who labor for the gospel highly. The first part of this letter to the Philippians, that we call chapter 1 & chapter 2, are chocked full truth and understanding needed for our walk with Jesus. Paul has used the word LOIPON, “finally”, to actually say there is more to come, there is more remaining, I am not through and what I have to say next is just as important.
Paul is telling us that even though there is much to do and understand regarding our walk with Jesus; above all we are to rejoice in the Lord. Rejoice is often over looked or tied into the word joy. The thought or question that comes up often is how we can remain happy with all the pressures in life. Some Christians feel overwhelmed if they look at all of the instructions in the bible for Godly living and even feel oppressed. There is a huge difference between joy and happiness and an even bigger difference between joy and rejoicing. For starters, happiness can be the beginning of joy, but happiness is largely controlled by circumstance and therefore, situational and temporal. A person can actually have moments of happiness, but never enter into a life of joy. According to dictionary.com joy “a noun” is “the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation:” Joy is much deeper than happiness and leans more toward a state of being, although still temporal if only looked at with natural eyes. In Galatians we are told that one of the fruits of the Spirit is Joy. In Colossians 1:11 Paul prays that we will be “strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy”. It is obvious that “joy” is deeper than happiness and is related to our understanding of the gospel, but in verse 1 we are told to “rejoice” which is a verb. Paul is telling us to take action; we are to stir up in ourselves the joy of the Lord that is already put in our hearts. We cannot just wait for something outside of us to cause us to have joy; we need to pull it from the inside out.
In one way Paul is telling us how to rejoice in the next sentence. This must have been a second letter written to the Philippians from Paul as indicated by the second sentence in verse 1. Remember we are to renew our minds daily, (Romans 12:2), and we can only learn a little at a time, (Isaiah 28:10). In Philippians 4:8 Paul gives us additional information on how to rejoice, how to renew our minds, how to draw out of us that which has already been put in. Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy--meditate on these things.” To actively rejoice is to stir up the joy of the Lord in our lives regardless of the circumstances.
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