Let Us Rejoice Together!
IT IS more and more difficult to be happy and joyful. For many it is difficult to think of positive, or good, things to say to others. Life in big cities can sometimes make people feel lonely and think that they do not want to be with others.
Professor Alberto Oliverio said that loneliness is very common today and that life in big cities can make some feel isolated, or lonely. Because they feel isolated, they may not be interested in their workmates, their neighbors, or those who work in the stores where they shop. The loneliness that the professor talked about can cause depression.
But the situation among Christian brothers and sisters is different. The apostle Paul wrote: “Always be rejoicing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16) There are many reasons to be joyful and to rejoice with our brothers. We worship Jehovah, the Most High God. We understand the truth from the Bible. We have the hope of living forever. And we can help others to have these same blessings.—Psalm 106:4, 5; Jeremiah 15:16; Romans 12:12.
True Christians rejoice and share their joy with one another. That is why 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.” (Philippians 2:17, 18) Here, in just two verses, Paul spoke twice about being happy and rejoicing with one another.
Christians must be careful not to isolate themselves. A person who separates himself from his brothers cannot rejoice with them in the congregation. Paul encourages us to “continue rejoicing in the Lord” with our brothers. How can we do this?—Philippians 3:1.
REJOICE WITH OUR BROTHERS
When Paul wrote to the Philippians, he was probably a prisoner in Rome because of his preaching work. (Philippians 1:7; 4:22) Even though he was in prison, he was still active and zealous in the ministry. He rejoiced because he used his life to do everything he could to serve Jehovah, just as when people gave “a drink offering,” they poured out the whole drink as a sacrifice. (Philippians 2:17) Paul’s attitude shows us that our joy does not depend on our situation. Even though he was in prison, Paul said: “I will also keep on rejoicing.”—Philippians 1:18.
Paul had started the congregation in Philippi, so he had special affection for the brothers there. He knew that he could encourage them by telling them about the joy he felt in serving Jehovah. That is why 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.” (Philippians 1:12, 13) When Paul told the Philippians this experience, they were encouraged. He rejoiced with his brothers in Philippi, and they rejoiced with him. The Philippians needed to remember their reasons for rejoicing and not become discouraged because Paul was in prison. They needed to imitate Paul’s attitude. (Philippians 1:14; 3:17) The Philippians could help Paul by praying for him and by giving him whatever help he needed.—Philippians 1:19; 4:14-16.
Do we have the same joyful attitude that Paul had? Can we try to think of the good things that happen to us in our life and in our ministry? When we are with our brothers, we can talk about good experiences in the ministry. We do not have to wait until we have an exciting or a special experience to do this. For example, maybe someone listened to the Kingdom message because of a good introduction we used or because of the way we reasoned with him. Maybe we had a good conversation with someone about a Bible verse. Or maybe while we were in the ministry, people recognized us as Jehovah’s Witnesses, and this was a good witness to them. When we tell our brothers experiences like these, it is a way that we can rejoice together.
Many of Jehovah’s people have made sacrifices to preach the good news, and many today are still making sacrifices. Pioneers, traveling overseers, Bethelites, missionaries, and international servants rejoice as they continue to work hard in their full-time service. Do we rejoice with them? We can show that we appreciate their work and that we are happy to be their “fellow workers for the kingdom of God.” (Colossians 4:11) We can do this by encouraging them when we are together at congregation meetings or assemblies. And we can think about their zeal and imitate their example. We can make opportunities to listen to their experiences and encouraging words by showing hospitality, maybe eating a meal with them.—Philippians 4:10.
REJOICE WITH THOSE ENDURING TRIALS
When Paul endured persecution and trials, it made him stronger and more determined to stay faithful to Jehovah. (Colossians 1:24; James 1:2, 3) He knew that the brothers in Philippi would possibly have similar trials. It gave him joy to know that by enduring his trials, he could encourage his brothers. That is why he said: “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.”—Philippians 1:29, 30.
Today people also oppose us because of our preaching work. Sometimes this opposition is violent, but often it is not. For example, it could be that apostates tell lies about us, or family members are angry with us. Or maybe people we work with or we attend school with make fun of us. Jesus said that we should not be surprised or discouraged because of these trials. Instead, we should consider them as reasons to rejoice. 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.”—Matthew 5:11, 12.
We should not be afraid when we hear that our brothers in some countries are suffering cruel persecution. Instead, we should rejoice because they are enduring. We can pray for them and ask Jehovah to help them to keep their faith strong and to endure. (Philippians 1:3, 4) Maybe this is all we can do for our dear brothers who are suffering persecution. But in our own congregation, there are brothers whom we can help when they experience trials. We can show them by our actions that we care about them. For example, we could sometimes invite them to join us for our family worship or work with them in the ministry or enjoy time together in recreation. We can use these opportunities to rejoice with one another.
We have many reasons to rejoice together! We do not want to have the world’s attitude and isolate ourselves from others. Instead, we want to be with our brothers and share our joy with them. By doing this, we will help to make the congregation a place of love and unity. And we will enjoy being a part of the Christian brotherhood. (Philippians 2:1, 2) Paul encourages us: “Always rejoice in the Lord. Once more I will say, Rejoice!”—Philippians 4:4.
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