Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.…
This joy is —
1. The reason has its moments of inexpressible delight. "Why do you sit up so late at night?" was asked of an eminent mathematician. "To enjoy myself." "How? I thought you spent your time in working out problems." "So I do, and there is the enjoyment. Those persons lose a form of enjoyment too keen to be described who do not know what it is to recognize after long effort and various failures, the true relation which exists between two mathematical formulae." We may be strangers to this form of enjoyment, but we may know enough of other subjects to believe its reality. All knowledge is delightful to the human mind because it involves contact with fact, and this contact is welcome to the mind because the mind is made for God the Truth of truths, in whom as manifested in His Son are "all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge."
2. In our day this delight is especially observable in the study of nature. The "scientific spirit" is almost concentrated upon this study, and it deserves a warm welcome from Christians; for if revelation is God's second book, nature is His first.
3. And if the contact of mind with reality has thus a charm all its own, what should not be the delight of steadily contemplating God as He presents Himself to us in His revelation. There the Being, the perfection, the life of God, are spread out before us like a boundless ocean, that we may rejoice in Him always as the only, the perfect satisfaction of our intellectual nature.
4. But alas! while this is the case, a new plant in your botanical gardens, a newly discovered animal in your menageries, an octopus in your aquariums, will send a thrill of delight through those who claim to represent the most active thought of the day, and all the while the Being of beings, with all the magnificent array of His attractive and awful attributes is around you. How much of the mental life you bestow so ungrudgingly on His creatures is given to Him! O intelligence of man, that was made for something higher than any created thing, understand, before it is too late, thy magnificent destiny and rejoice in the Lord.
1. It is the active, satisfied experience of a moral nature, a coming in contact with the uncreated and perfect moral Being. Joy has much more to do with the affections than with the reason. It is the play of the affections upon an object which responds to them and satisfies them. To the man of family, his wife and children call out and sustain this delight, which the ordinary occupations of his intellect rarely stimulate. And little as he may think it, on that threshold, beside that cradle, the man stands face to face with the attributes of the everlasting Being who has infused His tenderness and His love into the works of His hands.
2. God's attributes of holiness, justice, mercy, may well delight the human mind, but they address themselves inevitably to our moral nature. As we gaze on God the holy, we turn our eyes on ourselves, and ask "If He is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity what does He see in me?" Between that uncreated beauty and our enfeebled, broken nature, we know that some dark shadow has passed, and yet light enough is left to enable us to see how little we are like Him. Man, conscious of this radical flaw hides himself from the Lord God and a deep gloom takes possession of him. He would fain bury himself in amusement or work — anyhow — in self-forgetfulness — anywhere out of the sight of God.
3. The work of our Saviour has made it again possible to rejoice in God. Christ has destroyed the discord between our conscience and His holiness. His graces establishes a union between the believing soul and its object. "We are accepted in the beloved." Read Romans 5:1-11 and see what are the consequences of this new relation to God.
(1) Peace; and then as the soul finds what it is to have entered into the state of grace comes(2) Joy; and joy as it is one of the first experiences, so in its more magnificent forms it is the crowning gift of the new life. Not only being reconciled shall we be saved by Christ's life, but we also joy in God through Christ from whom we have received the atonement. The old fear which skulks away behind the trees of the garden is gone. Clinging to the Cross of Christ we behold the face of the Father, and "with joy we draw water out of the wells of salvation."Conclusion:
1. Our power of rejoicing in the Lord is a fair test of our moral condition. The heart that does not "break forth into joy" at the mention of His name is surely paralyzed or dead. If earthly friends, pleasures, etc., rouse in us keen sensations of delight, and this name which is above every name, this love which transcends earthly affections, finds and leaves us cold and unconcerned, be sure that it cannot be well with us.
2. This power of rejoicing is the Christian's main support under the trials of life. St. Paul after saying that we rejoice in hope of the glory of God adds, "not only so but we glory in tribulations."
3. This power is one of the great motive forces of the Christian life. Within the regenerate soul it is a well of water springing up into everlasting life, fertilizing everything — thought, feeling, resolution, worship: it gives a new impulse to what before was passive or dead, and makes outward efforts and inward graces possible, which else had been undreamt of.
Parallel VersesKJV: Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.