Philippians Study #6

Joy in God

Matthew Destry – Communications Pastor

Philippians 4:4

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!

There is something majestic about altitude. There is something wondrous, interesting and elating about being higher or above things that we usually see from the ground. Some of us may have a fear of heights, or even a negative experience with being off terra firma, but for all of history, man has been fascinated with altitude and flying.

Paul’s exhortation to the Philippian church here is particularly helpful. We must not forget that Paul is writing from jail, whilst chained to a Roman soldier, with very limited options and perspective. But in praise and rejoicing he is able to access a view that would usually be reserved for someone in a different situation. He is able to access a heavenly perspective while being held in a most trying circumstance. This is what praise does. It changes our perspective – our skyscraper-like problems get smaller, and our God (and his power, might, and faithfulness) gets bigger in our view.

Rejoicing in the Lord is the physical, mental and emotional act of bringing praise to God. It is the art of using our words and actions to exalt, magnify and honour God the Father and Jesus, His Son. Just like we would praise a well cooked meal (“that was so tasty!”), or praise a friend (“you’re such a thoughtful person” etc.) we are invited to do the very same thing with God. Except it’s not exactly the same. Praise is a spiritual act, and because it’s a spiritual act, it has spiritual benefits.

To be above the buildings, landscape, cities, mountains, or even clouds is a view that we don’t often experience. We are tethered to the ground by gravity and geography. Walking a mountain trail you might come across an amazing vista, but it’s only a short time before you must head back down the mountain again and get back to ‘regular’ life. In praise, we can access this perspective at any time: ‘Rejoice in the Lord always’.

It can be a difficult discipline to live out and master; this habit of praise. Particularly because praise is most important and effective when we don’t ‘feel like’ doing it. We least feel like going or a mountain hike when there is freezing weather and snow at the door. Still, when we get above the clouds, we get above the snow as well. We are able to see where to go next, able to see where God is in our situation, and God is given the glory at the beginning, in the middle, and at the end.

Reflection Questions

1/ How could you incorporate praise more into your every-day life?

2/ What do you find challenging about the exhortation ‘rejoice in the Lord always’?

3/ What would be the benefits for you of gaining regular access to a ‘heavenly perspective’?