Let Us Rejoice Together!
HAPPINESS and joy are increasingly difficult to attain. For many, sharing positive sentiments with others seems almost impossible. Modern-day life, especially in big cities, causes people to withdraw into themselves and become isolated.
“Loneliness is a very common condition,” says Professor of Psychobiology Alberto Oliverio, and “there is no doubt that life in large built-up areas facilitates isolation. In many situations, it causes us to ignore the personal life of an office colleague, a neighbor, or the checkout clerk who works at the neighborhood supermarket.” Such isolation often leads to depression.
The situation of fellow Christians, however, is different, and so is their spirit. The apostle Paul wrote: “Always be rejoicing.” (1 Thess. 5:16) There are many reasons for us to be joyful and to rejoice together. We worship the Most High God, Jehovah; we understand the Bible’s message of truth; we have the hope of salvation and eternal life; and we can also help others to attain the same blessings.—Ps. 106:4, 5; Jer. 15:16; Rom. 12:12.
Rejoicing and sharing one’s joy are characteristics of true Christians. So it is not surprising that Paul wrote to the Philippians: “I am glad and I rejoice with all of you. Now in the same way you yourselves also be glad and rejoice with me.” (Phil. 2:17, 18) Here, in the space of just a few words, Paul twice speaks of being glad and rejoicing with one another.
Christians, of course, need to be careful to avoid any tendency to isolate themselves. No one who cuts himself off can rejoice with fellow believers. So how can we follow Paul’s exhortation to “continue rejoicing in the Lord” with our brothers?—Phil. 3:1.
Rejoice With Fellow Believers
When Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians, he was probably a prisoner in Rome as a result of his preaching activities. (Phil. 1:7; 4:22) Yet, imprisonment did not dampen his enthusiasm for the ministry. On the contrary, he rejoiced to serve Jehovah to the fullest extent possible and to be “poured out like a drink offering.” (Phil. 2:17) Paul’s attitude shows that joy does not depend on one’s circumstances. Despite confinement, he said: “I will also keep on rejoicing.”—Phil. 1:18.
Paul had established the congregation in Philippi and felt particular affection for his brothers there. He knew that sharing the joy he found in serving Jehovah would be encouraging for them too. Hence, he wrote: “Now I desire you to know, brothers, that my affairs have turned out for the advancement of the good news rather than otherwise, so that my bonds have become public knowledge in association with Christ among all the Praetorian Guard and all the rest.” (Phil. 1:12, 13) Paul’s sharing this encouraging experience was one way of his being glad and rejoicing with his brothers. The Philippians, in turn, must have rejoiced with Paul. Their doing so, however, required that they not become discouraged because of what Paul was experiencing. Rather, they needed to imitate his example. (Phil. 1:14; 3:17) The Philippians, moreover, could continue mentioning Paul in their prayers and providing him with whatever help and support they could.—Phil. 1:19; 4:14-16.
Do we show the same joyful spirit as Paul did? Do we strive to see the positive aspects of our circumstances in life and of our Christian ministry? When we are associating with our brothers, it is good to rejoice about the witnessing work. We do not have to wait for sensational experiences to do this. Maybe we were able to arouse interest in the Kingdom message with a particularly effective introduction or line of reasoning. Perhaps we had a good conversation with a householder about a selected Bible verse. Or it may simply have been that we were recognized in the territory as Jehovah’s Witnesses, and this alone turned out to be a fine witness. Sharing such experiences is a way of rejoicing together.
Many of Jehovah’s people have made and are still making sacrifices to get the preaching work done. Pioneers, traveling overseers, Bethelites, missionaries, and international servants expend themselves in full-time service and rejoice as they do so. Do we feel glad and rejoice with them? Then let us show our gratefulness for these dear “fellow workers for the kingdom of God.” (Col. 4:11) When we are together at congregation meetings or larger Christian assemblies, we can warmly encourage them. We can also imitate their zealous example. And we can create the “opportunity” to listen to their experiences and upbuilding expressions by showing them hospitality, perhaps sharing a meal with them.—Phil. 4:10.
Rejoice With Those Facing Trials
Enduring persecution and overcoming trials strengthened Paul’s determination to stay faithful to Jehovah. (Col. 1:24; Jas. 1:2, 3) Knowing that the brothers in Philippi would likely face similar trials and would be encouraged by his perseverance gave him reason to be glad and to rejoice with them. Thus, he wrote: “To you the privilege was given in behalf of Christ, not only to put your faith in him, but also to suffer in his behalf. For you have the same struggle as you saw in my case and as you now hear about in my case.”—Phil. 1:29, 30.
Similarly today, Christians suffer opposition because of their witnessing. Sometimes this opposition is violent, but often it is more subtle. It might come in the form of false accusations from apostates, hostility from family members, ridicule from colleagues or schoolmates. Jesus warned that these trials should neither surprise us nor discourage us. Rather, they are reasons for rejoicing. He said: “Happy are you when people reproach you and persecute you and lyingly say every sort of wicked thing against you for my sake. Rejoice and leap for joy, since your reward is great in the heavens.”—Matt. 5:11, 12.
We should not be scared or terrified when we hear that our brothers face harsh persecution in certain lands. On the contrary, we should rejoice over their perseverance. We can pray for them, asking Jehovah to sustain their faith and endurance. (Phil. 1:3, 4) While we may be able to do little else for those dear brothers, we can help the ones in our own congregation who are undergoing trials. We can take an interest in them and support them. We can create opportunities to rejoice with them by occasionally inviting them to join us during our Family Worship evening, by sharing with them in the preaching work, and by spending time together in recreation.
We have many reasons for rejoicing together! Let us resist this world’s isolationist spirit and continue to share our joy with our brothers. By doing so, not only will we contribute to the love and unity of the congregation but we will enjoy the Christian brotherhood to the full. (Phil. 2:1, 2) Yes, “always rejoice in the Lord,” for Paul urges us: “Once more I will say, Rejoice!”—Phil. 4:4.
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