Article of Faith: Rejoice in the Lord always (1), By Femi Aribisala

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Are you happy? What is the basis of your happiness? Is it based on something you have? Is it based on a situation or circumstance? Beware, because that is building a house on the sand. When the storm comes, and the wind blows, great will be the fall of your house.

The Bible says the basis of our joy should be Christ. Jesus makes all the difference between an abundant life and a life of intermittent misery, depression, and dejection.

Eternal Life

The natural man defines life by material possessions. When people are making money, they are said to be making a living. Therefore, some go so far as to commit suicide for lack of financial resources. Others define their life by their job, marital status, educational background, or social status.

But God defines life by Himself because He is the author of life. God has life in Himself: “As the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself.” (John 5:26).

God is eternal. He is the “ancient of days” who lives forever. (Daniel 7:9). Therefore, God says only he who has God has life: “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” (1 John 5:12).

If you have God, you have a life that cannot be lost. Therefore, your joy must be exclusively in God and in things of God. The psalmist says God is our “exceeding joy.” (Psalm 43:4).  When barren Hannah finally had a child, she did not rejoice in Samuel; she rejoiced in the Lord. (1 Sam 2:1-10).  As a matter of fact, immediately Samuel was weaned, she gave him up and gave him back to the Lord.

Temporal works

What are those things that give you pleasure? What is the joy of your heart? What is it that you can look back on in your old age with satisfaction that you have achieved? Moses prayed: “Let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands for us; yes, establish the work of our hands.” (Psalm 90:17).

What happens if that husband you are so devoted to leaves you? What happens if those wonderful children of yours die in a car crash? What happens if those wonderful houses you built are destroyed in an earthquake? The truth, dear Moses, is that God only establishes the work of His own hands: “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labour in vain who build it.” (Psalm 127:1).

On one occasion when Jesus was leaving the temple, His disciples decided to show him the glories of the temple. But He who knows the excellent glories of heaven can hardly be impressed with the vainglories of this miserable world. Therefore, Jesus said to them: “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” (Matthew 24:1-2).

God cannot establish the work of a man’s hands unless his works are the works of God. The people of God are those who have rested from their own labours. (Revelation 14:13). Christ for them is the Lord of the Sabbath (Mark 2:28), and they have entered into His rest.

Every testimony in the life of a believer is a revelation of Jehovah. It is in him and in him alone that we are to rejoice. Paul says: “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4).

But, if you rejoice in anything or in anyone outside of the Lord, you cannot do so always. The joy of the world is transient; it does not last. The same thing that brought you joy will bring you grief sooner than later. But the blessing of the Lord makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow with it. (Proverbs 10:22).

Bed temperate

Paul recognised that his afflictions were actually in furtherance of the gospel. Many of his jailers gave their lives to Christ.

So, what should we do? Thank God for earthly things, but please do not feed your soul on them. Rejoice that your name is written in heaven. (Luke 10:20). Enjoy the things of this world but do not let them get into your heart. Do not set your heart on them. Reserve your heart for the Lord. You cannot be a citizen of the kingdom of God and continue to thirst for the things of the world:

Nothing else but Christ should matter to the believer. Only Christ is needful. Nothing else is of any significance whatsoever, save Christ and Him crucified. (1 Corinthians 2:2). That is why God, in His favour of life, has made Jesus our life, that we may have a life that cannot be lost.

Rejoice in the Lord always, confident that nothing, absolutely nothing, can separate you from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:39).

But if Christ is not everything to you, you can be sure that what you consider to be something will be taken away from you. Jesus says: “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42).

Christ cannot be taken away from the believer. If the Lord is truly your shepherd, then you shall not want. (Psalm 23:1).

The gospel gives the believer a totally new perspective on life. While it might not change his outward condition, it should have a salutary effect on his state of mind. It is not so much about saving a man’s life as it is about saving his soul. Therefore, it refreshes the soul even if it might not refresh the body. Received in prison, on death row, in affliction, or even in bereavement, the gospel provides great comfort.

Thanks to the gospel, sorrow no longer has a basis in the believer. Since Jesus has borne our grief and carried our sorrows (Isaiah 53:4), we no longer have any grounds to be sorrowful. Sin is the only legitimate cause of sorrow in the world. Being hell-bound is the only legitimate cause for grief.

The principal problem of life is not, as many presume, lack of a job, money, or means. The principal problem is sin. Once Jesus dealt conclusively with the sin problem, he declared: “it is finished.”  Jesus did not come to provide jobs, put money in people’s pockets, or find husbands for wives. He came to reconcile man back to God through the forgiveness of sins.

Think of something that gave you a great deal of joy. It could be that you bought a new car or a new dress, or you built your own house or got an excellent job. How long did that joy last? Was it a sustaining joy? Has the joy of that acquisition or achievement not dimmed already? The truth is that happiness only happens occasionally. The joy of the world only lasts for so long. It soon diminishes and dies.

Therefore, Jesus warns: “Do not labour for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.” (John 6:27).

Faribisala@yahoo.com; www.femiaribisala.com 

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