Our Guard Rail
Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe . . . Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Philippians 3:1; 4; 4 NKJV
Doesn’t it seem strange that a man unjustly in prison would be telling the church to rejoice? This is exactly what the Apostle Paul did. Paul’s attitude teaches us a powerful lesson: our inner attitudes don’t have to reflect our outward circumstance. It’s so easy to get discouraged about life’s circumstances and lose our joy—all because we’re not looking at life from the right perspective. The Word of God teaches us that God Himself is the source of our joy, and that joy is the natural state of the believer (John 15:11). Rejoicing in the Lord is imperative in believing, in living, in giving, in serving, and in suffering. Joy is our guard rail!
A guard rail is the edge of something that prevents people from falling off. For example, falling off the edge of the road while driving a car; falling off a deck or porch; falling out of a bunk bed, etc. Rejoicing in the Lord is our guard rail when faced with the adverse circumstance of life. Joy prevents us from derailing into anxiety, depression, loneliness, etc. Joy is the cheerfulness, delight, gladness we have in the Lord; it is an inward force of the Spirit of God within us; it is a fruit of the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is love, and God is: love, joy, and peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance (Gal. 5:22-23).
Love is the grace that helps us fulfils the whole law; joy and peace is the normal state of the believer; longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness is the grace to help us relate to others; and, temperance is self-control—controlling our appetites, desires, and passions. Joy is not happiness, which is a state of mind based on circumstances or happenings. Joy is the guard rail that remains unchanged regardless of the circumstances; our ground for rejoicing is in the Lord not circumstances.
Paul could write to the church about rejoicing in the Lord always because that’s exactly what he did, even while imprisoned in chains (Acts 26:2, 28-29). Joy was his guard rail that prevented him from anger, depression, and hopelessness. Notwithstanding, his unjust arrest and imprisonment, joy validated Paul’s witness before, during, and after his arrest (2 Tim. 4:6-8). Because joy is also our guard rail let us rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, and continue instant in prayer (Rom. 12:12). Rejoice always (Thess. 5:16). Joy is our guard rail!