“Rejoice in the LORD always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The LORD is near.”
Philippians 4:4-5, NIV
To be perfectly honest with you, rejoicing on a daily moment-by-moment basis does not always come so naturally for me. It does not seem to be my human nature to wake up rejoicing. Instead, I wake up planning out my day and compiling the list of things to do, places to go, and people to see. It is almost as if I wake up stressed. This is not the way the LORD intended it to be. In fact, Paul is suggesting just the opposite. Rejoice in the LORD always. I think that “always” is insanely pertinent to this verse. Always. In every moment, with every breath, we are to rejoice in the LORD always.
Isn’t life so much better when we are constantly rejoicing and enjoying? When we think about the good things we are no longer focused on the negative. Choosing to rejoice means setting aside the current situation you might be hyper-focused on. Choosing to rejoice means letting go of the negativity, which proves challenging.
In Psychology, there is a concept called negativity bias. It is the tendency for negative ideas or events to weigh more on our emotions and thoughts than corresponding positive ideas and events. Essentially, we as humans tend to notice or think about negative things way more often than positive. It is our nature to sometimes get this sort of “negativity tunnel vision.”
I do not mean to say that it is wrong to have a rough day or that bad days shouldn’t happen to Christians. That would be a lie. In the book of John, Jesus promises that we will have trouble in this world. But he doesn’t leave us hanging there. He gives us hope in the fact that he has already overcome the world.
This concept of negativity bias and the fact that we do have troubles sometimes can make this constant rejoicing seem like an impossible goal or even a silly notion. But we are called to rejoice in God anyway – and the bible gives us plenty of tools to practice and master the art of rejoicing always. Here are just a few verse references to give us a fuller picture of this rejoicing.
1st Chronicles 16:31-32:
“Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let them say among the nations, ‘The LORD reigns!’ Let the sea resound, and all that is in it; let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them!” (NIV)
“Finally Brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (NIV)
“In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.” (NIV)
In Philippians 4:4-5, Paul is encouraging the church to REJOICE! We begin rejoicing by being gentle as our savior is gentle: “Let your gentleness be evident to all”. I don’t know about you, but when I am having a bad day, my gentleness tends to take a back seat. Most people in bad days end up reacting abrasively rather than responding gently. So how can we make sure to be gentle? Take a moment to rejoice! I would encourage you to take a moment daily to pray and position yourself to rejoice and to be gentle. The negativity bias stems from the natural tendency to hyper-focus on a negative concept. Next time you find yourself focused on nothing but the bad, try saying a quick prayer to choose a rejoicing gentleness–you have countless reasons to rejoice and rejoice again! Think of that which is good and right. Witness the earth praising God. Choose to rejoice in the safety our hearts have in the LORD’s holy name. I will say it again: rejoice.
All materials written and designed by Heather & Daniel Christy.