Our Attitudes - Philippians 4:4 03/08/20

Our Attitudes – Philippians 4:4 03/08/2020

We’re still dealing with the Christian life, in fact we’re about half way through the series. We’ve talked about being in relationship with our Creator, and how this is more significant than our actions seem to demonstrate. We talked about how our lives are lives characterized by a walk of faith. We talked about how God has taken us from the graveyard and made us His children. All of this should produce a certain perspective, and attitude toward life that is not common in the world around us.


Paul gives us this command; Philippians 4:4 ~

4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice![1]


What does this mean, and how do we obey it? For starters, since this can be given as a command, it also means it’s a choice we can make. This command is even more remarkable when we consider that Paul wrote, or dictated, this with his right arm chained to the arm of a Roman soldier.[2] His life was at risk, his freedom had been taken, his ministry appeared to have been brought to an abrupt stop. But he still writes about joy.


This is command to the Christian, “”Be joyful.”[3] Takes on special emphasis is with it being repeated, and then with the addition of “always” (πάντοτε). The command isn’t given conditionally.[4] It’s given regardless of what kind of day you’re having, it’s given regardless of what your circumstances might be.[5] In all the trials of life, in the midst of the attacks from those who either misunderstand us, or actively distort what we say, in all of the clashes that will inevitably take place between believers, in the midst of the persecution that the world brings to bear, even in the face of loss and death, all the things that Paul was experiencing himself, we’re commanded to maintain a spirit of joy… in the Lord.[6]

I find myself asking, “Is this one of the first things people think of when they think about the Christian Church?” Sadly, I think we have to give a negative answer, but joy should be one of the first things people think about when they think about the Christian church. In fact, two things should characterize the Church, that is, when people think about you and me, they should think about how we love others, and they should think about how joyful we are.

This “joy,” expressed through rejoicing, isn’t something that we drum up on our own. It’s actually a product of the Spirit’s presence in our lives.[7] As we’re led by the Spirit His nature begins to express itself through us. One aspect of the fruit of the Spirit is joy, in fact it is the second trait that’s listed for the fruit of the Spirit.


Now, we’re not immune to sorrow and loss, nor should we be insensitive to the troubles of others.[8] But in the midst of these things joy reigns in the believer’s heart…when Christ is truly made to be Lord of their life.[9] Christian joy is not the fleeting joy of the world, it is predicated on our relationship (remember the Christian walk is fundamentally about being in relationship with God) with the Lord.[10]


So let’s think about exactly what “joy” is, and exactly what “joy” is not... from a biblical perspective. The word in our passage is “rejoice” (χαιρετε); this is a verb[11]in the present tense, active voice, imperative; it is a command to rejoice. This is more than emotion, it is a quality of life grounded in God Himself.[12] The lexical form (that is, the dictionary form) is (χαίρω), a verb[13], and means to enjoy a state of happiness and well-being.[14] It’s a delight of the mind arising from the consideration of a present or assured future good.[15] Notice that it always has a basis in something. It is not simply a perky outlook on life. It’s predicated on what God has done, and on what God has promised that He will do. Because of this awareness and focus on things outside of this world, it includes within itself a readiness for martyrdom; even physical destruction cannot nullify it.[16]


For the Christian, fulfilment and joy are exclusively related to the person of Jesus.[17] Jesus changes how we see the world, He doesn’t annul death, He makes it into an act of salvation through His resurrection, and then through our promised resurrection.[18] This joy is based on our deliverance from sin, it’s based on our assurance of resurrection, it is based on a loving relationship with our God, but more than this, it is brought into our lives as an expression of the nature of the Holy Spirit as He moves in our lives.


Our joy as Christians is based on the realization that a Christian’s faith (ἐν κυρίῳ), “in the Lord,” is what makes such an appeal meaningful.[19] This is an abiding, deeply spiritual, quality of the Christian life.[20] If you’re a Christian, regardless of what you feel or think, you are “in the Lord.” This is the governing factor, it is this that makes rejoicing possible regardless of the circumstances.[21]


What about us? What about me? When I get negative and discouraged and grumpy what is my life saying? It’s saying that I don’t really trust God, it’s saying that I am not yielded to the Spirit of God at that moment, it is saying I still want to be in control. How about you? Joy is supposed to be a hallmark of the one who claims to walk in the Spirit. Does your life testify to that reality… or not? Jesus put it this way; Luke 12:34 ~

34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.[22]


  1. [1] The New King James Version(Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Php 4:4. [2] John Peter Lange et al., A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Philippians(Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2008), 66. [3] J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee: Volume V, 1 Corinthians – Revelation, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN.: 1983), 320. [4] J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee: Volume V, 1 Corinthians – Revelation, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN.: 1983), 320. [5] J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee: Volume V, 1 Corinthians – Revelation, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN.: 1983), 320. [6]Homer Kent, Jr., Philippians, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Volume 11, Ephesians – Philemon, gen. ed., Frank Gaebelein, assoc. ed., J.D. Douglas, NT eds., James Boice and Merrill Tenney, manuscript ed. Gerard Terpstra, (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1978), 151. [7] J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee: Volume V, 1 Corinthians – Revelation, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN.: 1983), 320. [8]Homer Kent, Jr., Philippians, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Volume 11, Ephesians – Philemon, gen. ed., Frank Gaebelein, assoc. ed., J.D. Douglas, NT eds., James Boice and Merrill Tenney, manuscript ed. Gerard Terpstra, (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1978), 151. [9] Max Anders, Galatians-Colossians, vol. 8, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999), 261. [10]Gordon Fee, Paul’s Letter to the Philippians, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, gen. eds., Ned Stonehouse, F.F. Bruce, and Gordon Fee, (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1995), 404. [11]C. Davis, Joy, in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Second Edition, ed., Walter Elwell, (Baker Reference Library, Grand Rapids, MI.: 2001), 637. [12]C. Davis, Joy, in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Second Edition, ed., Walter Elwell, (Baker Reference Library, Grand Rapids, MI.: 2001), 636. [13]C. Davis, Joy, in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Second Edition, ed., Walter Elwell, (Baker Reference Library, Grand Rapids, MI.: 2001), 637. [14] Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 302. [15]Charles Barnes, The People’s Bible Encyclopedia: Biographical, Geographical, Historical, and Doctrinal, (The People’s Publications Society, Chicago IL.: 1924), 603. [16] Hans Conzelmann and Walther Zimmerli, “Χαίρω, Χαρά, Συγχαίρω, Χάρις, Χαρίζομαι, Χαριτόω, Ἀχάριστος, Χάρισμα, Εὐχαριστέω, Εὐχαριστία, Εὐχάριστος,”ed. Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, and Gerhard Friedrich, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament(Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964–), 369–370. [17] Hans Conzelmann and Walther Zimmerli, “Χαίρω, Χαρά, Συγχαίρω, Χάρις, Χαρίζομαι, Χαριτόω, Ἀχάριστος, Χάρισμα, Εὐχαριστέω, Εὐχαριστία, Εὐχάριστος,”ed. Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, and Gerhard Friedrich, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament(Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964–), 370. [18] Hans Conzelmann and Walther Zimmerli, “Χαίρω, Χαρά, Συγχαίρω, Χάρις, Χαρίζομαι, Χαριτόω, Ἀχάριστος, Χάρισμα, Εὐχαριστέω, Εὐχαριστία, Εὐχάριστος,”ed. Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, and Gerhard Friedrich, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament(Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964–), 370. [19] Gerald F. Hawthorne, Philippians, vol. 43, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 2004), 244. [20]Gordon Fee, Paul’s Letter to the Philippians, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, gen. eds., Ned Stonehouse, F.F. Bruce, and Gordon Fee, (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1995), 404. [21]Ralph Martin, The Epistle of Paul to the Philippians: An Introduction and Commentary, gen. ed., R.V.G. Taskers, (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids MI.: 1969), 167. [22] The New King James Version(Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Lk 12:34.

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