Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.…
I. THERE ARE SOME PRECEPTS OF SCRIPTURE WHICH WE MAY HAVE DIFFICULTY IN PERFORMING, BUT WHICH, AT LEAST, WE HAVE THE POWER OF ATTEMPTING. Such, e.g., as to forsake a bad habit or to undertake a certain course of action. BUT THERE ARE OTHERS WHICH SEEM TO ENJOIN WHAT IS BEYOND OUR POWER, e.g., those which demand a particular aspect of mind, whatever may be our feelings, such as our text. It seems strange that joy should be a duty. Unless there be cause for it, how can we have the power? Well, we may surely reckon up our occasions for sorrow and joy, and if the latter preponderate we might, at least, be ashamed of being unhappy, and that is a great preparation for a thankful state of mind. When a man is downcast, he is often raised by a friend who points out that things are not so bad as he thinks. And the Christian has reasons for joy which far outweigh reasons for sorrow. Count up then your mercies. Adjust yourselves to the breathings of God's Spirit. If you cannot call forth the melody which slumbers in the heart, you can awaken the breeze of its music.
II. JOYFULNESS IS AS MUCH WITHIN OUR POWER AS HONESTY AND INDUSTRY. It is not as though it were only a question of natural disposition, etc. One great purpose of religion is to furnish us with motives and aids to correct our natural temperament, and to bring into play moral forces to counteract those which are opposite to good. Is not the Christian entitled to discharge all his cares on God's providence; lay his sins on God's Son; and his fears on God's promises? Has he an excuse then for being disquieted.
III. SOME CHRISTIANS REGARD JOY AS PERMITTED BUT NOT AS COMMANDED, a privilege, not a duty. Had this been so numbers would have wanted it; but as God has enjoined it all must strive after it, and that for many reasons. The believer is asked to state what is religion. If he fails to rejoice he brings disgrace upon it, for he is disobedient. And here is the triumph of infidelity; and the inquirer after religion is deterred when he sees in its professors, how it defers the happiness of which he is in search.
IV. AS JOY IS A COMMAND WHICH PROCEEDS FROM GOD'S MOUTH, SO IT MAY BE KEPT BY GOD'S GRACE. We are bidden to rejoice "in the Lord." Whatever be the attribute contemplated there is reason for gladness even in the holiness which condemns our sin. For did not that very holiness provide a means whereby the sinner might be honourably and eternally forgiven. If there be nothing in God in which we may not rejoice, it is evident that there is nothing in the universe.
V. THE REDEEMER IS A MODEL FOR THE CHRISTIAN IN THIS AS IN EVERY OTHER VIRTUE. He who for the joy that was set before Him endured the Cross says, "Ask and ye shall receive that your joy may be full."
VI. HALF THE DEPRESSION OF CHRISTIANS ARISES FROM LOOKING AT AND INTO THEMSELVES. Even when looking at Christ for righteousness, they look to themselves for comfort. It is Christ's hold on the believer that makes him safe. Rejoice, then, in the Lord.
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.