1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Rejoice ever more.…
I. THE POSITION OF THE TEXT.
1. It is set in the midst of many precepts. Note them. All these things are to be done as occasion requires, but rejoicing is to be done evermore; and rejoice in each duty because you rejoice evermore.
2. It comes just after a flavouring of trouble and bitterness (ver. 15). The children of God are apt to have evil rendered to them; but still they are bidden to rejoice. "Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you." Despondency is excluded, and yet among the curiosities of the Churches, I have known many deeply spiritual people who have been afraid to rejoice, regarding it as a sacred duty to be gloomy. But where is the command to be miserable? Then, is it not a sin not to rejoice, since it is so plainly commanded?
II. THE QUALITY OF THIS REJOICING.
1. It is not a carnal rejoicing. If it were it would be impossible to keep it up evermore. There is a joy of harvest, but where shall we find it in winter? There is a joy of wealth, but where is it when riches are flown? So with health, friends, etc. If your joys spring from earthly fountains, those fountains may be dried up. You are forbidden to rejoice too much in these things, for they are as honey, of which a man may eat till he is sickened. But the joy which God commands is one in which it is impossible to go too far.
2. It is not presumptuous. Some ought not to rejoice: "Rejoice not, O Israel...for thou hast departed from thy God." It would be well for the joy of many to be turned to sorrow. They have never fled to Christ for refuge. Many have a joy that has accumulated through many years of false profession. If your joy will not bear looking at have done with it.
3. It is not fanatical. Some people of a restless turn never feel good until they are half out of their minds. I do not condemn their delirium, but want to know what goes with it. If our rejoicing does not come out of a clear understanding of the things of God, and has no truth at the bottom of it, what can it profit us? Those who rejoice without knowing why are driven to despair without knowing why, and are likely to be found in a lunatic asylum ere long. Christ's religion is sanctified common sense.
4. It is not even that Divine exhilaration which Christians feel on special occasions. There are moments when Peter is no fool for saying, "Let us build three tabernacles." But you are not commanded always to be in that rapturous state, because you cannot be; the strain would be too great. When we cannot mount as on wings, we may run without weariness, and walk without faintness. The ordinary joy of Christians is not the joy of jubilee, but of every year; not of harvest but of all the months.
5. But it is the joy which is part of ourselves which God works in us by His Spirit, the cheerfulness of the new born disposition, a delight in God and Christ, a sweet agreement with Providence, a peace passing understanding.
III. ITS OBJECT.
1. We can always rejoice in God. "God my exceeding joy."(1) God the Father, His electing love, unchanging grace, illimitable power, and transcending glory in being His child.
(2) God the Son, Immanuel, His sympathizing humanity, His divinity and atonement.
(3) God the Holy Ghost, dwelling in you, quickening, comforting, illuminating.
2. Every doctrine, promise, precept of the gospel will make us glad.
3. The graces of the Spirit: faith, hope, love, patience.
4. Holy exercises: prayer, singing, communion, Christian labour.
5. Bible study.
IV. REASONS FOR REJOICING.
1. It wards off temptation. The armour of light is our effectual preservative. What can worldly mirth give to the man who is happy in God.
2. It encourages one's fellow Christians. It is a half holiday to look at the face of a rejoicing Christian. His words are ever cheering and strengthening.
3. It attracts sinners.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Rejoice evermore.
WEB: Rejoice always.