1 Thessalonians 5.16 Rejoice always,
Two simple words, yes do you really understand what they mean? Many think they understand – ‘Tis the season to be jolly – which turns into one party after another. It seems everyone is looking for something – decorations, presents, perhaps a little snow. Perhaps some Christmas songs to get is in a festive spirit. Problem is that with so much to do, sometimes we jest get tired, and its hard to rejoice when you’re tired.
Lets not forget the Christmas cold and flu season – who wants to hear that they ought to rejoice, when they feel lousy. The answer is not to put on a happy face, or to grin and bear it – that would be a superhuman task – and the answer is not just to pretend or to ignore the obvious. And then there are the Christmas blues – missing people who are far away – feeling forgotten and alone. This also is part of the season, consider that the reason they sang "White Christmas" was because they were filled with disappointment, and things hadn’t turned out as expected – they know what would make them happy, but it hasn’t happened yet.
Sometimes it is hard to rejoice, sure there are good times, but often we are then too busy to really rejoice. And when things are going poorly, we can’t see reason to rejoice – so why this text – why this command? What does it really mean to rejoice always?
The center of rejoicing is not in our feelings, nor is it in getting what we want – the center of rejoicing is in getting what we need – the center of rejoicing is in salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. Salvation is the forgiveness of sin, Salvation is everlasting life, Salvation is freedom from all the chains that bind us – freedom from sin, from death and from the devil. We rejoice in salvation, because in Christ we are slaves no longer. We rejoice because God is at work in us, making us a new creation, enabling us to resist temptation, and filling our lives with countless blessings.
Here is an exercise which may help – when you look to the cross what do you see?
If you see you sins, now is the time to repent. Of course you can’t rejoice in your sins – but you can rejoice, that repentance is possible, and that forgiveness lies close at hand.
If you look to the cross and see your savior – you know why you have reason to rejoice. Share this joy with others, help them to come to know the love of God in Jesus Christ.
For a curious thing happens when you share your faith – you may have intended to be an encouragement – but you find that you are encouraged all the more. We rejoice because God is at work – we see the signs of his presence all around us.