Not long ago, I asked my son if he knew how much I loved him, and he replied, “Well, yeah…you tell me all the time.” If I were to ask my husband, daughters, parents, siblings, or others close to me, they would probably say the same thing. The truth is that I never know when it might be the last time I speak to those I love, and I wouldn’t want there to be any doubt of how I was feeling the last time we saw each other.
But as Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians, in chains, not sure of what the next moment might bring, the first sentences to be written in Chapter 3 were not, “Remember how much I love you.” They said this:
“Whatever happens, my dear brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord. I never get tired of
telling you these things, and I do it to safeguard your faith.” Philippians 3:1 NLT (italics mine)
Wow. This touched my heart and opened my eyes to three things we canlearn from this hero of the faith:
- We all need to prepare our “whatever happens” statement.
Alright, y’all. I like to think of this as where the rubber meets the road. Paul didn’t say, “Whatever happens, remember that I love you…or don’t forget me.” Or even something spiritual like, “Remember that God has a plan and a purpose and He is good no matter what.” He simply said “rejoice in the Lord.” Whatever happens, ya’ll. Death, pain, loss…rejoice in the Lord. Fear, worry, anxiety…rejoice in the Lord. And I don’t know if I would have said the same. I don’t.
Because I tend to make things about me. “Remember that I love you. Remember that you are so special to me.” This gets pretty personal because it touches on who is most important for those we love. I want to be my family’s everything, but that is not the case, y’all. Paul knew that no matter the circumstance, joy could only be found in the Lord. And so He said it over and over again, “Rejoice in the Lord.”
- We need to pray for endurance to say the important things again and again.
I don’t know about you, but nothing gets on my nerves as much as repeating myself over and over. “Take your plates to the sink…clean your room…put your laundry away…” At least that’s how it goes in my house. Instructing gets monotonous at times. But one thing we cannot allow ourselves to tire of, is telling those we love about the Lord and the joy He brings.
There may be situations where you are hurting so badly that you can’t even get the words off of your lips. But continue to shine His light, y’all. Love others, do good, and rejoice in the hard things. Speak truth and life from the Word of God, even when it feels like no one is listening.
Remind those you love that God loves them, will never leave them, and offers grace and mercy freely. Tell them over and over that He created them for a purpose only they can fulfill. Share how forgiveness is theirs if they ask because Jesus died for them. And share that Jesus is alive! Those are the reasons we can rejoice, y’all.
“Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again-rejoice!” Philippians 4:4
- We must safeguard the faith of those around us.
Paul didn’t tire of telling the believers about the Lord because He knew that the world would try to fill their minds with things to the contrary. We have the same problem today. Social media, television, the internet, and the kid down the street are only too happy to share things that would tell those we love that God is not good. That he allows bad things to happen. That we should not only not rejoice in Him, but turn away from Him all together.
So it is our responsibility to help safeguard the faith of those around us. Now, can we ward off every attack from the enemy? Probably not. But we can cover those we love in prayer. We can ask the Lord to guard their hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. We can teach them to put on the armor of God, talk about Him, put our faith in action, and remind them of all He’s done.
But Jesus said, “No, go home to your family, and tell them everything the Lord has done for you and how merciful he has been.” Mark 5:19
Whatever happens, may we all rejoice in the Lord, and tell others to do the same, my sweet friends.