"Rejoice and be Exceeding Glad"

We had the pleasure, a few days ago, of calling to see an aged Child of God, a farmer, living in an out-of-the-way and wild part of Northumberland. He was in a feeble state of health and confined to his bedroom, where we spent, to us, a very refreshing half-hour. He told us that he was born into this world in 1827 and born into God's family in 1857, so that for fifty-seven years he had known the Lord; time enough truly to test the faithfulness of the Lord as well as his own reality. But what affected us most was a parting word that he gave us from his open bedroom window as we prepared to drive away from his house. It was, "Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, rejoice."

We felt that no word from an aged pilgrim to young men seeking to serve the Lord could have been more appropriate. It turned us in our thoughts from the ups and downs of Christian conflict with their joys and sorrows, from the fluctuations of success in service with their hopes and disappointments, and from the varying warmth and coldness of God's saints with their cheer and rebuffs, to Him in whom there is no shadow of changing, to the perennial spring of everlasting joy — the Lord Himself.

We record the simple incident because we wish to press upon our readers the need of definite exercise of soul as to this very definite exhortation, made first to the saints at Philippi (chaps. 3 and 4). We do not rejoice sufficiently, you do not rejoice sufficiently. We felt that we needed those words from the lips of that old saint standing at his bedroom window; we feel that you need to have them pressed upon you. There are sorrows truly that we all must taste and share, and the more we walk in the fear of God the more we shall see in the world and the church to cause us grief; nevertheless with all, and under all, and over all, there should be with us this rejoicing — "As sorrowful yet alway rejoicing," said the Apostle. And if we are not rejoicing we are not safe. "To write the same things to you, to me indeed, is not grievous, but for you it is safe" (chap. 3:1).

Weakness in testimony, fruitlessness in life, and failure in service is the one alternative to this joy in the Lord. We are a drag upon brethren, to ourselves a misery, to the devil a sport, and to the Lord a dishonour if we do not rejoice in Him. In short, the Christian who is not rejoicing, or who cannot rejoice in the Lord is a backslider living in sin.

It need not be said, for we know it, that we cannot rejoice in the Lord unless He attracts and charms us, excluding every idol from our hearts, it need not be said, for we know it, that the love of the world and joy in the Lord cannot abide in the same heart, for they are utterly incompatible. We know also, or if we do not we may know, exactly where the leakage in our vessel is, what it is that robs us of this joy in the Lord, blights our testimony and makes us the ordinary ineffectual and sterile Christians that we so often are. Some evil secretly indulged, some unholy ambition, perhaps in spiritual things; some grudge hidden in heart against another, some sparing of a carnal growth in our lives, or winking at evil in our associations. We need all to say, "Search me, O Lord; take Thy candle, and go through every chamber in my life, and detect for me every lurking evil that hinders me from rejoicing in Thee, and give to me the grace I need to drag it out and cast it aside with true repentance for my unfaithfulness to Thee."

Well, He presents Himself to us in the depth of His humiliation on earth and in the excellence of His glory in heaven, and as we consider Him here and there we know not which to admire most. In every place, and at all times, He is altogether lovely. His humiliation puts to shame all the proud pretensions of men and makes us loathe the strife and vainglory of the flesh, and the excellency of His glory puts into complete eclipse all worldly splendour and distinction. It is as we know Him, and as we know Him still more, that our joy in Him will be full and deep. And it is this that we should seek, not that which is loud and superficial and occasions a mere caricature of Christian joy, which serves only to bring into prominence the one who affects it, but a constant and ever-deepening joy in the Lord which will give tone and power to everything we do and say.