By Not Known
Joy comes naturally from faith and is one of the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22). Until the heart believes in God, it is impossible for it to rejoice in God. On other words, unless we turn to God in repentance and receive Christ into our hearts by faith, there can never be true joy.
When faith is absent, we are filled with fear and gloom and we are disposed to flee at the mere thought of God. Indeed, the unbelieving heart is filled with enmity and hatred against God. We become conscious of our own guilt and have no confidence in God’s gracious mercy. The heart knows God to be an enemy to sin and that He will punish sin.
The Psalmist implies that it is all those “who are upright in heart” − those whose hearts are purified through obedience in Christ (and not sinners), who will “rejoice in the Lord and be glad.” (Psalm 32: 1). It must be the just and the righteous who are to rejoice in the Lord and when the guilty have been released from the power of an evil conscience, joy will surely result naturally.
Such is the rejoicing of which Paul speaks in Philippians 4:4 − a rejoicing where there is no sin or fear of death, but rather a glad and all-powerful confidence in God and His kindness. “To rejoice in the Lord” is not rejoicing in gold or silver, in eating or drinking, in strength or health, in skill or wisdom, in power or honour − or even in good works or holiness. It is a genuine heartfelt joy that will stir the depths of the heart and be an experience from the heart.
Paul further commands us to rejoice “always”. In so doing, he actually rebukes those who rejoice in God only a portion of the time and those who rejoice only when it is well with them. Such “fair-weather” rejoicing also does not last, while rejoicing in the Lord is enduring because it is centred on the Lord.
It is essential that we rejoice. Paul recognises that while we struggle with sin in a fallen world and sometimes succumb, our joy in God will surpass our failures. May God’s joy rule our hearts as we let Christ reign over our lives in the new year.