Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.
The chapter contains a general exhortation to several duties. This verse tells you how to do them — "rejoicing."
I. THE APPELLATION — "Brethren." By loving compellation he labours to enter into their hearts. If exhortation comes from the pride of man, the pride of man will beat it back. Why are Christians brethren?
1. They have the same beginning of life from the same Father; the same common brother Christ; the same food, the Word of God; the same promises and inheritance.
2. The word is indicative of equality. This should fill up the valleys of hearts dejected here in regard to mean estates; as also pull down the mountains of proud hearts.
3. It is a name of dignity belonging to the heirs of heaven.
4. It is a word of love.
II. THE EXHORTATION.
1. It is the Christian's duty to rejoice. It is commanded here.
2. It is reasonable that they should rejoice. They are free from the spiritual Egypt; why should they not sing as the delivered Israelites. They have peace with God and an assured hope.
3. It belongs only to Christians to rejoice. Others have neither cause nor commandment to do so.
III. THE LIMITATION — "In the Lord."
1. In whom? Christ is our Lord —
(1) By gift. God has given us all to Him.
(2) By conquest. He hath gotten the victory over Satan for us.
(3) By marriage.
(1) By adherence to Him. We must rest contented with Him as our only and sufficient joy.
(2) Obedience to His laws; delighting in them.
IV. THE MEANS.
1. Faith. It is the sense of our reconciliation that makes us rejoice (Romans 5:2; 1 Peter 1:6). Whatever strengthens or weakens faith, strengthens or weakens joy.
2. Peace. Whatever disturbs our peace disturbs our joy.
3. Prayer. Pray that your joy may be full.
4. Christian communion. As the two disciples' hearts did burn within them when they talked with Christ.
1. Why, then, are God's children sorrowful?
(1) Their sorrow proceeds from the want of the perfections necessary to make them absolute Christians indeed.
(2) They do not adorn their profession, and so God hides the comfortable presence of His Spirit.
(3) The sorrow may only be apparent, for their joy is a hidden joy. The feast is kept in the conscience and not always manifest.
(4) While they live here they have ever a mixture of joy and grief to temper one another.
2. Is not the Christian fuller of sorrow than of joy? If so, it arises from ignorance of the grounds of comfort or from want of application of them. Let him then —
(1) Compare all discomforts with the joy he may have, and he will find that it countervails a world of sorrow, for it is endless, and one day will be full.
(2) Take heed of the hindrances of this joy. Sins committed and not repented (1 Chronicles 2:7).
(3) Take heed of negligence in good duties and to do them thoroughly.
(R. Sibbes, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.