“Rejoice in the Lord Always and again I say, Rejoice.” (Php 4:4)
Considering the state of our world this seems like an impossible task. One thing we forget however, is that those words were penned while Paul was in a Roman prison.
Every generation has to figure out how to complete this command in themselves despite the ‘troubles’ of their times. We’re no different.
Since the fall of man, we have all had to deal with the troubles that come from a broken sin filled world.
Despite this can we still find a way to REJOICE? Yes. If there is a command, then it’s within our ability to obey. But how?
How do we rejoice in the midst of turmoil? Can we rejoice when there is no peace in the world? We forget that there is no true peace if we’re not at peace with God. When we find peace with God, we can also see how to rejoice.
“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.” (Col 3:15)
This verse comes in the midst of a list of instructions; it must then be true then, that when we follow these instructions, we might have that peace of God.
Going to the beginning of the chapter we find the first step. “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.” (Col 3:1-4). Before we can have peace from God, we need to seek and to set our affections above. From this verse and others, we learn that the child of God is to PURSUE righteousness, the things from above (cf. Jas 3:17; 1Tim 6:11; 2Tim 2:22; 1Pet 3:11).
The child of God is then to, “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:” (Col 3:5-9). EVIL is to be put off of the child of God. How can any of us expect peace when we continue to participate in the earthly, carnal, sensual, evil of this world? “For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience:” We used to live this way, but now we are to live differently (cf. 1Cor 6:9-11).
Removing bad habits is not enough, we must replace what we have put off. “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;” (Col 3:12). We are to put on, ADORN ourselves with the new man. In obeying the gospel through faithful baptism, we are raised up to walk in newness of life (Rom 6:3-4). Failure to do this is why we often return to our old ways. It’s not enough to remove evil. We must replace it with good.
But we still have a little further to go. The elect of God is expected to go beyond just outer actions, we must engage our hearts. “And above all these things put on CHARITY [love], which is the bond of perfectness” (Col 3:14). Without love we are nothing (1Cor 13:1-3). Love is very powerful. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” (1John 4:18).
There is just one more thing in this list. Love is more than an emotion. It’s obedience to God. “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments:” (1John 5:3). We see this instruction in our passage. “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” (Col 3:15-17).
We must let the peace of God dwell in our hearts, and this is accomplished when we let the word of Christ dwell there also. The last line in this section explains what this means. “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” “Whatsoever, do, word, deed, do all?” This covers EVERYTHING. The entirety of our lives is to be focused on serving God. A fitting bookend to the beginning where we were told to “set our affections on things above.”
Do we want peace? Do you want rejoicing? It’s possible. When we Pursue those things above, put off Evil, Adorn ourselves with the new, have Charity in our hearts, and let the word of God permeate the Entirety of our lives, then we can rejoice. We rejoice not because life is easier. We rejoice because we know we have hope of an eternal home in heaven where Christ sits.
Spencer is an evangelist for the Franklin & Juniper St church of Christ in Borger Texas. If you live in the Borger area and would like to learn more about what the bible says on life and godliness, then let us know how we can help you know more of God’s word.