3 Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you.
I’ve been pondering lately on what this means. It’s simple. But what does it look like to “rejoice in the Lord?” Am I often rejoicing in the Lord?
The startling thing about this verse is its context. Paul is in prison, in chains, not sure whether he is going to live or die. If he’s lucking he is defecating in a corner of his cell. If he’s in Rome the Romans knew how to make circumstances miserable. And in this Paul is telling them, “Rejoice in the Lord.”
And then he writes, “It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you.”
Some people assume that this goes with the verses afterwards in which he begins to tell them to beware of those who teach salvation through circumcision. But he hasn’t written to them yet about these people. But he has indeed written to them several times already about rejoicing. And that’s why I think it is about rejoicing.
Writing it Again
“It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again“ (4:3)
And he says something similar coming up soon:
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (4:4)
It’s interesting that this is so important that he repeats himself over and over. Perhaps we should listen up.
And moving on, how is rejoicing a safeguard?
Currently my own experience is one of intensive caregiving. I have learned that on some days I’m prone to complaining, frustration and even self-pity in my thought life. Because of the pressure, when I go down that route it’s only within minutes that I tank. I get angry, weepy and quick to anger with my mother. A bad thought can spiral in seconds and I’m in trouble. Pressure has a way of doing that.
And Paul had pressure. Immense pressure. He was facing possible death, people were taking advantage of his time in prison to preach out of envy and rivalry and there were disunity problems among the believers. If he for an instant gave way to complaining, frustration and self-pity, the outcome would have been very different. Even the letter he wrote would be very different. Rejoicing in every way is indeed a safeguard. One we desperately need.
The Crazy God We Love
One thing that stands out to me is that it’s pretty cool we have a good who care for our joy. And cares that we find it in Him. He doesn’t want us solemn, serious and heavy but actually full of joy!
It’s not enough to study this Scripture, it is only enough when we obey it. Am I obeying it? Am I finding joy in the Lord? Am I rejoicing over his love and sacrifice for me? Is my joy and happiness in him? And is my joy in Him “Always” (4:4).
The truth is no. Not even close. If this were an arrow I wouldn’t even be hitting the target. It’s not that I don’t thank God throughout the day, or pray or am in His Word. But am I in his joy? And is he in mine?