Rejoice in Jehovah!
“Always rejoice in the Lord. Once more I will say, Rejoice!”—PHILIPPIANS 4:4.
1. Why may we wonder what Paul meant when he said that Christians should always rejoice?
NOWADAYS, reasons for rejoicing may seem few and far between. Men of dust, even genuine Christians, encounter situations that cause sorrow—unemployment, ill health, the death of loved ones, personality problems, or opposition from unbelieving family members or former friends. So how are we to understand Paul’s admonition, “Always rejoice”? In view of the unpleasant and trying circumstances with which all of us must contend, is this even possible? A discussion of the context of these words will help clarify the matter.
Rejoice—Why and How?
2, 3. What is the importance of joy, as illustrated in the cases of Jesus and the ancient Israelites?
2 “Always rejoice in the Lord. Once more I will say, Rejoice!” This may remind us of the words directed to the Israelites some 24 centuries ago: “The joy of Jehovah is your stronghold,” or according to the Moffatt translation: “To rejoice in the Eternal is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10) Joy provides strength and is like a stronghold into which one can withdraw for comfort and protection. Joy was instrumental in helping even the perfect man Jesus to endure. “For the joy that was set before him he endured a torture stake, despising shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2) Clearly, being able to rejoice in the face of difficulties is vital for salvation.
3 Prior to entering the Promised Land, the Israelites had been commanded: “You must rejoice over all the good that Jehovah your God has given you and your household, you and the Levite and the alien resident who is in your midst.” The consequences of failing to serve Jehovah with rejoicing would be severe. “All these maledictions will certainly come upon you and pursue you and overtake you until you have been annihilated . . . due to the fact that you did not serve Jehovah your God with rejoicing and joy of heart for the abundance of everything.”—Deuteronomy 26:11; 28:45-47.
4. Why might we fail to rejoice?
4 It is imperative, therefore, that the anointed remnant of today and their “other sheep” companions rejoice! (John 10:16) Paul, by repeating his counsel, “once more I will say,” stressed the importance of rejoicing over all the good that Jehovah has done for us. Do we? Or do we get so caught up in the everyday routine of life that we sometimes lose sight of our many reasons for rejoicing? Do problems pile up so high that they block our view of the Kingdom and its blessings? Do we allow other things—disobeying God’s laws, ignoring divine principles, or neglecting Christian duties—to rob us of our joy?
5. Why does an unreasonable person find it difficult to rejoice?
5 “Let your reasonableness become known to all men. The Lord is near.” (Philippians 4:5) An unreasonable person lacks balance. He may fail to care for his health properly, needlessly subjecting his body to undue tension or anxiety. Perhaps he has not learned to accept his limitations and to live accordingly. He may set his goals too high and then try to reach them regardless of the cost. Or he may use his limitations as an excuse for slowing down or slacking the hand. Lacking balance and being unreasonable, he finds it difficult to rejoice.
6 Even if opposers view us as fanatics, fellow Christians should always be able to see our reasonableness. And they will if we are balanced and do not expect perfection either from ourselves or from others. Above all, we must refrain from imposing burdens on others that go beyond what God’s Word demands. The apostle Paul said: “Not that we are the masters over your faith, but we are fellow workers for your joy.” (2 Corinthians 1:24) As a former Pharisee, Paul well knew that rigid rules laid down and imposed by those in authority stifle joy, whereas helpful suggestions offered by fellow workers increase it. The fact that “the Lord is near” should remind the reasonable person that we are not ‘to judge the house servant of another. To his own master he stands or falls.’—Romans 14:4.
7, 8. Why must Christians expect to have problems, yet how is it possible for them to continue rejoicing?
7 “Do not be anxious over anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication along with thanksgiving let your petitions be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6) We are today experiencing the “critical times hard to deal with” of which Paul wrote. (2 Timothy 3:1-5) So Christians must expect to be faced with problems. Paul’s words “always rejoice” do not rule out the possibility that a loyal Christian may have occasional bouts of despondency or discouragement. In Paul’s own case, he realistically admitted: “We are pressed in every way, but not cramped beyond movement; we are perplexed, but not absolutely with no way out; we are persecuted, but not left in the lurch; we are thrown down, but not destroyed.” (2 Corinthians 4:8, 9) A Christian’s joy, however, mitigates and eventually overrides temporary periods of anxiety and sorrow. It imparts the necessary strength to keep pushing ahead, never losing sight of the many reasons for rejoicing.
8 When problems arise, whatever their nature, the joyful Christian humbly begs for Jehovah’s help by means of prayer. He does not give in to extreme anxiety. After doing what he himself reasonably can do to solve the problem, he leaves the outcome in Jehovah’s hands in harmony with the invitation: “Throw your burden upon Jehovah himself, and he himself will sustain you.” Meanwhile, the Christian continues to thank Jehovah for all His goodness.—Psalm 55:22; see also Matthew 6:25-34.
9. How does a knowledge of the truth impart peace of mind, and what good effect does this have upon a Christian?
9 “The peace of God that excels all thought will guard your hearts and your mental powers by means of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7) A knowledge of Bible truth frees the Christian’s mind of falsehood and helps him develop healthy thinking patterns. (2 Timothy 1:13) He is thus helped to avoid wrong or unwise behavior that could jeopardize peaceful relations with others. Instead of being frustrated by injustice and wickedness, he places his trust in Jehovah to solve mankind’s problems through the Kingdom. Such peace of mind guards his heart, keeps his motives pure, and guides his thinking in the way of righteousness. Pure motives and right thinking, in turn, provide countless reasons for rejoicing, despite problems and pressures brought about by a chaotic world.
10. True joy can be experienced only by speaking or thinking about what?
10 “Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are of serious concern, whatever things are righteous, whatever things are chaste, whatever things are lovable, whatever things are well spoken of, whatever virtue there is and whatever praiseworthy thing there is, continue considering these things.” (Philippians 4:8) A Christian finds no pleasure in speaking or thinking about bad things. This automatically eliminates much of the entertainment the world supplies. No one can maintain Christian joy if he fills his mind and heart with lies, foolish jesting, and matters that are unrighteous, immoral, without virtue, hateful, and detestable. Plainly stated, no one can find true joy by filling his mind and heart with filth. In Satan’s corrupt world, how upbuilding it is to know that Christians have so many good things to think about and discuss!
Countless Reasons for Rejoicing
11. (a) What should never be taken for granted, and why not? (b) What effect did attendance at an international convention have on a delegate and his wife?
11 When speaking of reasons for rejoicing, let us not forget our international brotherhood. (1 Peter 2:17) While worldly national and ethnic groups express intense hatred for one another, God’s people draw closer together in love. Their unity is especially in evidence at international conventions. Of the one held in 1993 in Kiev, Ukraine, a delegate from the United States wrote: “The joyful tears, the beaming eyes, the constant flow of familylike hugs, and the greetings sent across the playing field by groups waving colorful umbrellas and handkerchiefs clearly spoke of theocratic unity. Our hearts swell with pride in what Jehovah has miraculously accomplished in the worldwide brotherhood. This has touched my wife and me deeply and has added new dimensions to our faith.”
12. How is Isaiah 60:22 being fulfilled before our very eyes?
12 How faith strengthening it is for Christians today to see Bible prophecies fulfilled before their very eyes! Consider, for example, the words of Isaiah 60:22: “The little one himself will become a thousand, and the small one a mighty nation. I myself, Jehovah, shall speed it up in its own time.” At the Kingdom’s birth in 1914, only 5,100—a little one—were actively preaching. But during the past five years, the size of the worldwide brotherhood has been increasing at the average rate of 5,628 newly baptized Witnesses each week! In 1993, a peak of 4,709,889 active ministers was reached. Just imagine! This means that “the little one” of 1914 is literally close to becoming “a thousand”!
13. (a) What has been happening since 1914? (b) How do Jehovah’s Witnesses observe the principle of Paul’s words at 2 Corinthians 9:7?
13 Since 1914 the Messianic King has gone forth subduing in the midst of his enemies. His rule has been supported by willing human followers who contribute time, strength, and money to carry on the worldwide preaching work as well as an international construction campaign. (Psalm 110:2, 3) Jehovah’s Witnesses rejoice that monetary contributions are being made to see these activities through to completion, even though money is scarcely ever mentioned at their meetings.* (Compare 1 Chronicles 29:9.) True Christians do not have to be prodded into giving; they consider it a privilege to support their King to the extent their circumstances permit, each one “just as he has resolved in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion.”—2 Corinthians 9:7.
14. What condition among God’s people has become apparent since 1919, giving them what reason for rejoicing?
14 The foretold restoration of true worship among God’s people has resulted in the creation of a spiritual paradise. Since 1919 it has progressively extended its borders. (Psalm 14:7; Isaiah 52:9, 10) The result? True Christians experience “exultation and rejoicing.” (Isaiah 51:11) The resultant good fruitage is evidence of what God’s holy spirit is capable of accomplishing by means of imperfect humans. All credit and honor go to Jehovah, but what greater privilege could there be than to become God’s fellow worker? (1 Corinthians 3:9) Jehovah is powerful enough to cause the stones, if need be, to cry out the message of truth. Nevertheless, he has seen fit not to resort to this method but, rather, to motivate willing creatures made of dust to carry out his will.—Luke 19:40.
15. (a) What modern events do we follow with interest? (b) To what event do we look forward with rejoicing?
15 Full of awe, Jehovah’s servants now watch world events as these relate to outstanding Bible prophecies. The nations are trying hard—but in vain—to achieve a stable peace. Events are forcing them to call on the United Nations organization to act in the world’s trouble spots. (Revelation 13:15-17) Meanwhile, God’s people are already looking ahead with great anticipation to one of the most joyful events ever to take place, one that is getting nearer by the day. “Let us rejoice and be overjoyed, and let us give him the glory, because the marriage of the Lamb has arrived and his wife has prepared herself.”—Revelation 19:7.
Preaching—A Burden or a Joy?
16. Illustrate how failing to practice what he has learned could rob a Christian of his joy.
16 “The things that you learned as well as accepted and heard and saw in connection with me, practice these; and the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:9) By practicing what they have learned, Christians can expect to receive God’s blessing. One of the most important things they have learned is the necessity of preaching the good news to others. Indeed, who could enjoy peace of mind or be joyful if he withheld information from honesthearted persons whose very lives depend upon hearing it?—Ezekiel 3:17-21; 1 Corinthians 9:16; 1 Timothy 4:16.
17. Why should our preaching activity always be a source of joy?
17 What a joy it is to find sheeplike persons willing to learn about Jehovah! Indeed, those serving with the right motive will always find Kingdom service to be a source of joy. This is because the main reason for being a Witness of Jehovah is to praise His name and to uphold His position as Sovereign Ruler. (1 Chronicles 16:31) The person who recognizes this fact will rejoice even when people unwisely reject the good news he brings. He knows that preaching to unbelievers will one day come to an end; praising Jehovah’s name will go on forever.
18. What motivates a Christian to do Jehovah’s will?
18 True religion motivates those who practice it to do the things required by Jehovah, not because they have to, but because they want to. (Psalm 40:8; John 4:34) Many people find this difficult to understand. A lady once told a Witness calling on her: “You know, I must give you credit. I would certainly never go from house to house preaching about my religion as you are doing.” With a smile the Witness replied: “I can understand how you feel. Before I became one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, you could not have made me go to other people to talk about religion. But now I want to.” The lady thought for a moment and then concluded: “Obviously your religion has something to offer that mine does not. Perhaps I should investigate.”
19. Why is it now the time to rejoice as never before?
19 The 1994 yeartext, prominently displayed in our Kingdom Halls, regularly reminds us: “Trust in Jehovah with all your heart.” (Proverbs 3:5) Could there be a greater reason for rejoicing than being able to put our trust in Jehovah, our stronghold in whom we take refuge? Psalm 64:10 explains: “The righteous one will rejoice in Jehovah and will indeed take refuge in him.” This is no time to waver or give up. Each passing month brings us closer to the reality of what servants of Jehovah have yearned to see since the days of Abel. Now is the time to trust in Jehovah with all our heart, knowing that never before have we had so many reasons to rejoice!
At conventions and once a month in congregations, a brief statement is read indicating the amount of voluntary contributions received as well as the expenses incurred. Occasionally letters are sent out advising how such donations are being used. Everyone is thus reminded of the financial situation of the worldwide work of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
How Would You Answer?
□ Why, according to Nehemiah 8:10, should we rejoice?
□ How can Philippians 4:4-9 help us always to rejoice?
□ What reason does the 1994 yeartext give us to rejoice?
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Russian and German Witnesses rejoice to be part of an international brotherhood
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Sharing the truth with others is a cause for rejoicing