“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
One of the most common verses in the Bible is 1 Thessalonians 5:16: “Rejoice always.” God in His sovereignty wants His people to have a heart of joy. For various reasons, people may find it hard to be joyful, especially as Christmas is near. Some will spend Christmas for the first time without a loved one, others may have received a serious medical diagnosis, or worry about their financial situations. At every turn, there seem to be reasons not to be joyful. The evangelist and pastor, R. A. Torrey, once said, “There is more joy in Jesus in 24 hours than there is in the world in 365 days. I have tried them both.”
The command to “rejoice always” is a reminder from the Lord that our joy does not originate from our circumstances. Rather, our joy springs from the Lord. The joy from the Lord is not like the joy we see in the world—pretending to be joyful just to make it through the day. But it is deeper, it is from the heart, and it is directly connected with the hope, love, and salvation that we have in Christ.
In Matthew 2, the Bible tells us that after Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the wise men followed the star they had seen in the east until it stood over the place where Jesus was. Verses 10-11 say, “When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. After coming into the house, they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshipped Him.” The wise men had limited knowledge about who Jesus was, and yet they were filled with great joy in His presence. Knowing all that we know about Jesus today, shouldn’t we be rejoicing even more than the wise men?
This Christmas season, I want to encourage you to rejoice. Rejoice because your joy is in Jesus Christ. The greatest gift from God. The Savior who came as a baby, born in a manger, lived a life without sin, yet died for our sins, and rose again so we can have a relationship with Him. In Him, we have life (1 John 5:11). In Him, we have the hope of heaven (John 14:2-4). In Him, we have no fear (Isaiah 41:10). In Him, we are free (John 8:36). Regardless of the circumstances, the Lord will always be with you and will take care of you. He loves you and He lives in your heart today to give you joy.
As the great carol says, “Good Christian men, rejoice with heart and soul and voice. Give ye heed to what we say: Jesus Christ is born today!” Brothers and sisters, that is great news: Jesus Christ is alive! Let us rejoice and be glad!