A Deeper Look into: “REJOICE!”

2 Mar

“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven; for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” Matthew 5:10-12

To rejoice means to be cheerful; calmly happy; well-off. It is also used as a salutation of greeting to a person. It is also used as a greeting to be well in body and spirit (the physical aspect) and to be glad (the emotional/spiritual aspect). To be exceeding glad is to be very much full of joy. It ought to be described as the chiefest joy and happiness you can possibly fathom. When we are exceeding glad in our hearts, it will affect our entire being and have a positive effect. It will cause us to “jump for joy”; and that is the literal interpretation of this word according to the Strong’s Concordance.
Perhaps that is why we are instructed to respond in two different ways when we are reviled and persecuted. We are to rejoice (that’s step one) and then to also be exceeding glad (step two). To rejoice is the outward public action of wishing our offender gladness and wellness of heart, body, and soul even though they have hurt us and treated us unjustly. To be exceeding glad is then our inward personal action of rejoicing in the Lord and thanking Him in all circumstances.

The final time ‘rejoice’ is used in the O.T. is in Zech. 10:7.  Israel had been formerly suffering and seeing the judgment of God upon other nations. The Lord’s wrath was kindled because of lies, falsehood, and vanity. However, the Lord promised to strengthen his children, save them, show them mercy, and hear them. He said that their hearts would rejoice because of all things they would realize were happening around them (tending to the physical) and then their heart would also rejoice in the Lord (tending to the spiritual). The very next time rejoice is used in the Bible is in the first book of the New Testament, Matthew 5:12. This word was used as part of Jesus’ first public sermon given on the mount. He spoke of rejoicing in the midst of heartache and pain. This was a manifestation and prophecy of what was to come to those who chose to follow Christ and then decided to continuously walk with Him. They wouldn’t always have the privilege to rejoice in prosperous, blessed, abundant days but more so in sorrowful, pressured hardships and trials that awaited them day by day.

It is stated that “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” When I would think of those “persecuted”, I would tend to think of those who willing gave up their life for the sake of the Gospel. This is very true and describes the verse well. However, after further study, I began to see another side to this. Further insight brought along the conclusion that to be persecuted means to be followed after and pursued. You may ask, “How does this apply to persecution for righteousness’ sake?” Well, you see, in the Christian life we are often bombarded by the outside world and even Christian brethren who press down hard upon us and consistently pursue in trying to mock and rail on our character, beliefs, standards, and holy conversation of life: speaking lies to our mind. This is the definition of being persecuted for righteousness’ sake in an everday interpretation. When we withstand these pressures and mockings, we will be rewarded with all the royalties of glorious heaven above when we meet our Saviour face to face.

And finally, we are to also rejoice when others revile and speak evil against us falsely. How is this done? By others defaming our name and testimony and speaking reproachfully to us in a vicious, hurtful way. It is manifested by words that bring guilt and harm to our spirit and soul and are grievous to our hearts. The underlying effect of this action is negative and not intended to give any benefit to the one accused.

Through all of this, we are told to take heart because the prophets that have gone on before us have suffered the same exact thing. There is nothing new under the sun. Even our Lord Jesus Christ had suffered through these sorrows as we are comforted by the remembrance that He is touched with the feeling of our infirmities. Also, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (1 Cor. 10:13). With God, we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us and there are no impossibilities or limitations  in the power of Christ working within us – so we can rejoice and be exceeding glad!
*1 Thess. 5:16  “Rejoice evermore”.  It’s a choice of the soul and that’s where the mind, will, and emotions reside. Phil. 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.” There are no exceptions!

*James 1:12, “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation (a putting to proof (testing if you are what you believe), discipline, adversity): for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.” Many times false accusations will come and others will revile and mock us for our convictions and for our stand we take in Christ. They use their words as a test to see if what we stand for is what we truly believe in down deep in our hearts and if it will stand the test of time and tribulation. They often want to know if we are “real” or if it’s just a “put-on air”.

*Psalm 55:12-14, “For it was not an enemy that reproached me: then I could have borne it: neither was it he that hated me that did magnify himself against me; then I would have hid myself from him: But it was thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance. We took sweet counsel together, and walked unto the house of God in company.”  Have you noticed in life that the ones we’re closest too often hurt us the deepest – even our brothers and sisters in the Lord? This is where true agape love must shine forth. We cannot love them in and of ourselves. It can only be through God in us. Our lives must be surrendered to the Lord and we must be loving Him with all our heart so that even in these times He can channel His love through us and be shared with our revilers.

To be in Heaviness and yet Rejoice

It is obvious that God created us with emotions and feelings. Our Creator knew that situations and circumstances in life would affect us, some in great ways and others in small. We are not forbidden to sorrow over difficulty or weep during hardships. After all, there is a time to mourn and a time to rejoice. Jesus Himself wept at Lazarus’ grave being full of sorrow after losing such a close friend. Hannah wept before God as she pleaded with the Lord to give her a son. Even Jonah experienced depression and wanted to die after proclaiming judgment upon Nineveh and then seeing them spared. Yet, as we work through our grieving times and our times of immense pain, sorrow, or rejection, we can choose to rejoice over greater results that will come.

The Benefits We Receive by Rejoicing: the greater results 

1. As we are tried and purged and pressed, our faith in the Lord Jesus will be found unto praise and honour and glory when we are taken to our eternal home in glory. 1 Peter 1:6&7, “Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:”. This verse seems like a paradox. How can one be in great heaviness, sorrow, and turmoil yet be greatly rejoicing at the same time? If you look deeply into the verse you will begin to see the true meaning behind it. We aren’t necessarily rejoicing in the trial itself. The trial brings about grief and inward pain. Rather, we are rejoicing in the benefit that the trial will birth. As we live through the trial, reviling, or persecution rejoicing in what God is doing behind the scenes, our testimony through it all will be a sweet aroma in the presence of our Saviour. It is then that we will be able to give Him praise from our lips, honour from our conversation of life, and glory by our public testimony.

2. When we are reproached, we can be happy because we are promised that the spirit of glory and God will rest upon us. 1 Peter 4:12-13, “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.” What is this spirit of glory? It is a spirit of magnificence, splendor, excellence, and majesty that belongs to God alone. It is also the time when we will meet our Saviour at his coming to judge his enemies and crown his faithful servants. This spirit of glory and of God will rest upon us symbolizing that we cease from all struggle or labour of our own in this trial and simply rely on God’s strength and power working within us allowing us the freedom to relinquish our own reputation and resolved to abide contented in His will. By enduring these tribulations with joy, we promote the gospel of Jesus Christ as others will then see His light shining in and through us and be drawn to Him.

3. God will be glorified through what may seem like an evil situation. Joseph experienced this in his life. Genesis 50:20a, “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good”.  God gave him a clear vision that he would rule over his brethren one day. He shared these thoughts with his family and became despised and perhaps even hated in their eyes. His brothers sought to slay him but chose instead to sell him as a slave to Egypt. Could you imagine the devastation that this young man was experiencing? Here, he was the cherished son of his father and a young boy full of hopes and dreams. How would he ever fulfill God’s purpose for him as a ruler if he was sold as a slave? As we read through his story, we are never shown that Joseph complained or grumbled or wavered in his faith towards God. Through what seemed like an unfortunate series of events and through false accusations and lies, Joseph landed in the stocks of the filthy, stinking prison cells –  all because a woman didn’t get her own way. He was unjustly accused and abused! Joseph was persecuted and reviled because of his confidence in the Lord and his conviction of purity.  It seems apparent that he rejoiced even in the midst of the most dire circumstances. He was still loving His Lord, serving others, and finding favor with those he was around. Through his rejoicing and resting in the perfect will of God, the Lord restored him to a position that super-exceeded anything he could have dreamed. Besides Pharaoh, there was no one greater than Joseph in all the land of Egypt. God used these seemingly awful events to prepare the way for Joseph to save his entire family and all of Egypt from a seven year famine.

4. It will be used for our good and the benefit of others. There are been numerous brothers and sisters in Christ who have gone on before us bearing precious seed as they endure trial after trial. God uses these times in our lives, so that he might “humble thee, and that he might prove thee, to do thee good at thy latter end:” ( Deut. 8:16). This blessing of rejoicing reminds me of a story of a man who was thrilled to be used and abused for Jesus’ sake. The man’s name of Solomon Ginsburg. He was a native of Poland and born into a Jewish family. His father was a respected rabbi and expected his son to follow in his steps. However, God had a different and very difficult path for Solomon to follow. In his late teens (perhaps even early twenties), Solomon was asked by a converted Jew to come to a Christian meeting. Through this, Solomon eventually came to know Jesus Christ as his real and living Saviour but it wasn’t until three months of struggle, sleeplessness, and agony. It was a difficult decision as he knew the consequences that would come: he would be condemned and cursed by his family; he would lose his job; he would be excommunicated, etc. Once Solomon made the decision to follow Christ even in adversity, he become a influential powerful testimony of the grace of God. Throughout his life and ministry of witnessing he was persecuted, reviled, and accused for the name of Christ. There was a time that he was unmercifully beaten almost to the point of death and upon gaining consciousness found himself in a garbage box with some of his bones broken, his body covered with bruises and his clothes soaked with blood. But it was times like these that he expressed were “glorious”! After being excommunicated and disinherited from his family, he walked out of the house so full of happiness and immense, unspeakable joy that a police officer saw him and thought he was drunk. One day, Solomon and another young convert were evangelizing and were put into a predicament a group of Jews attacked them with hammers, stones, and knives. His friend was able to escape but Solomon was severely beaten, then dropped head first over the banister and down a spiral staircase. Solomon consecrated his life to the Lord in ministering in the country of Brazil. The Lord used him in mighty ways to advance His kingdom on this earth, preaching to large crowds even 5,000! Through imprisonment, persecutions, revilings, and even personal sorrows, Solomon’s light shined forth greatly. He reached out to thousands of hearts and through his rejoicing was a vibrant living testimony of being a vessel found unto praise and honour and glory .
We aren’t expected to be happy about the persecutions and revilings in and of themselves but rather happy in the thought that God is going to use this for His glory, His name will be magnified, and we will reap benefits and qualities through it all: so much so, that God’s spirit will rest upon us.

5. We will sanctify the Lord in our hearts. 1 Peter 3:14 – 17, “But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing”. To sanctify means to separate, dedicate, and consecrate to God, to purify by the renewing of the soul. By being happy in our tribulation, we are purifying our beings to be wholly set-apart for the things of God. He can best use a vessel whose dross has been removed and is prepared unto every good work. The man who has purged himself from sin and is living a life in full surrender to His will and loving Him with all his heart will be a “vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work” (2 Tim. 2:21). When the Lord looks down from heaven with a special task He desire to bestow on one of His children, do you want him to skip by you because you are not meet for His use? Perhaps He can’t use you fully and effectually because you’re embracing anger, bitterness, and resentment; therefore, you’re life’s work and testimony as well as God’s power and purpose are being hindered.

6. It will cause us to have a more deeper, passionate, and intimate relationship with Jesus. If we yield ourselves to Him and put ourselves under His authority, this is what true oneness with our Saviour is all about. We are told that if we love him, we will keep his commandments (1 John). One of our Lord’s forty-nine commands is to rejoice when men shall say all manner of evil against you falsely. As we keep this commandment and hide it in our hearts, we are learning to love our Lord with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. As we this happens, our love for Him deepens and we begin to know more of Him. As we know more of Him, we will then have a desire to seek passionately after Him. The more time we spend in His presence, the more we will be imparted with the knowledge of the Holy, understanding His ways and gaining a deeper appreciation for His Word.

7. We will be better equipped to counsel others during their difficulty.  2 Corinthians 1:4, “Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” We have a special one-of-a-kind comfort of God given to us as we rejoice through our tribulation. It is a comfort that we can then share as we reach out to help those in need. As we help those that God brings into our lives, it is a manifestation of our love for God. 1 John 3:17, “But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?” The Lord spoke of it being a shame when a people can not profit or help others in their time of need (Isaiah 30:5). Do you see that if we fail in helping and comforting those that may be grieving and hurting, the love of God is not fully flowing through us like it ought and once again, we are hindering a mighty working of God in the lives of others.

Deciphering between Truth and Error:

How do we know if we are being falsely accused or if our accuser is speaking the truth? How do we know if we are being reviled for Christ’s name or for our own sinful, fleshly conduct? Matthew Henry stated, “There is very little comfort in sufferings when we bring them upon ourselves by our own sin and folly. It is not the suffering, but the cause, that makes the martyr.” David was harshly cursed by Abishai and David sensed that God permitted him to do so because of his own sin (2 Sam. 16:9-14). You see, our hearts are so deceitful and desperately wicked. We can never understand it or trust it. God alone is the revealer of hearts and we must bring the accusation to Him and have Him try them. How do we do this?

1. By enquiring, searching the Word, and asking diligently whether it be truth or error (Deut. 13:14).  Proverbs 16:3, “Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established.” If we give the situation over to God, He will impart to us the knowledge we need to decipher if what we are experiencing is for righteousness’ sake or our own sake. He will give us rhemas in His word to confirm His answer and will give us the peace in our hearts to accept the truth.

2. By asking our authorities to give insight and provide discernment. We can bring the situation before our authorities and ask for their wisdom and discretion. In the mouth of two or three witnesses, let every word be established. (Proverbs 15:22 Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors they are established.) Sometimes, we can’t see the “problem” areas in our life but our authorities can give us insight and provide further light on the situation.

3. By our response to the accusation/reviling. Do we respond in patience? Romans 12:12, “Patient in tribulation”. We can bear the feelings, frustrations, and inward pain of our tribulations with an abundance of patience if we know it is for the glory and honor of Jesus Christ. If our spirits lash out in anger, resentment, or bitterness toward our accuser and the accusation, it mostly likely is stemming from an inward problem within our spirit. We are reacting to the truth in the apparent “false accusation”.  David, a man after God’s own heart, expressed “Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults.” (Psalm 19:12).  It is within our nature to excuse and defend ourselves when we feel targeted. We can so easily make the accusations a proof of being persecuted for righteousness sake rather than accepting the fact that our own failures have caused these accusations.


2 Responses to “A Deeper Look into: “REJOICE!””

  1. Tricia (Mom) March 2, 2009 at 5:21 pm #

    Wow, Sara. What a thought provoking article. It is so hard for me to find reasons to rejoice in a trial even though I know the Lord has commanded it. But after reading your 7 reasons why we CAN rejoice, I am filled with encouragement! I can rejoice! I want that deeper relationship with Jesus! I want to glorify Christ and help others and I desire the Spirit of the Lord to rest upon me! Thank you so much for all the research and prayer you put into each article! Love you!!!

  2. Ruth Ann Wassenaar March 6, 2009 at 4:00 pm #

    hi, sara, it was nice to have you take my order today. as promised, i’ve checked out your blog while feeding my baby her sweet potatoes. i would never get anything done if it weren’t for multi-tasking! you’ve motivated me to be more diligent and inspirational in my blogging too. blessings on your day!

    ruth ann

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