Phil 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
Phil 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. NIV
No, this is not the same as “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” The root word for rejoice in Greek is chairo. Though it was sometimes use as a greeting, generally it meant to be cheerful or glad. Strong’s dictionary says, in other words, “calm delight.” What makes it so different from happy is that we are told to rejoice or have joy despite whatever circumstances we may be facing.
Here, in Philippians 4, it is used as a positive present imperative in connection with a negative present imperative, “do not be anxious.” Paul is strongly exhorting his beloved Philippians to stop being anxious and instead to be calmly delighting.
This should encourage us, because it means that these believers were just like you and I. They must have been worrying about some issues in order for Paul to tell them to stop. He had to remind them that rather than worry, they were to be rejoicing. He would say the very same thing to us today.
Usually, when we hear someone telling us to stop worrying and instead be cheerful, we immediately think, “they don’t understand my circumstances.” That is very possibly true, but let’s not forget that these words were penned by a man who was a prisoner at the time. He had given this same imperative to the church at Philipi in Ch 3, verse 1, so he is giving it strong emphasis. Paul, who is a master at explaining how and why we can follow God’s directives, does so once again.
The key is in verse four. We rejoice “in the Lord.” The Greek word for Lord used here, is kurios. It means “supreme in authority” or “controller.” That is whom we are rejoicing in and that is why we do not have to worry. The one who we present our requests to, is the one who can do something about our requests! He has the ability to meet any need we may have and He is also the one who has our best interests at heart. He is also the one who can give you the peace you need (v7) so that you may rejoice.
Paul is not the first one to exhort us in this way. Jesus taught us to rejoice in our circumstances as well. Matt 5:11-12, "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven…”James said, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” (James 1:2-3)
In all of these verses, we are told to rejoice in the Lord, even though our circumstances would not normally warrant that rejoicing. We must make that connection. Rejoicing when things are going well is easy. It is our ability to rejoice in difficult times, rather than worry, that truly measures our trust in Christ. Note also that we are not told to ignore the difficult circumstances. We are not “hiding our head in the sand” about them. We are instead choosing to trust an omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent God, who proved His love for us on the cross! That is how and why we can REJOICE AND NOT WORRY.
God bless you
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