2405. Joy, A Duty

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No. 2405-41:133. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Evening, March 20, 1887, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Intended For Reading On Lord’s Day, March 24, 1895.

Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, “Rejoice.” {Php 4:4}

1. There is a marvellous medicinal power in joy. Most medicines are distasteful; but this, which is the best of all medicines, is sweet to the taste, and comforting to the heart. We noticed, in our reading, that there had been a little tiff between two sisters in the church at Philippi; — I am glad that we do not know what the quarrel was about; I am usually thankful for ignorance on such subjects; — but, as a cure for disagreements, the apostle says, “Rejoice in the Lord always.” People who are very happy, especially those who are very happy in the Lord, are not apt either to give offence or to take offence. Their minds are so sweetly occupied with higher things, that they are not easily distracted by the little troubles which naturally arise among such imperfect creatures as we are. Joy in the Lord is the cure for all discord. Should it not be so? What is this joy but the concord of the soul, the accord of the heart, with the joy of heaven? Joy in the Lord, then, drives away the discords of earth.

2. Further, brethren, notice that the apostle, after he had said, “Rejoice in the Lord always,” commanded the Philippians to be careful for nothing, so implying that joy in the Lord is one of the best preparations for the trials of this life. The cure for care is joy in the Lord. No, my brother, you will not be able to keep on with your fretfulness; no, my sister, you will not be able to weary yourself any longer with your anxieties, if the Lord will only fill you with his joy. Then, being satisfied with your God, yes, more than satisfied, overflowing with delight in him, you will say to yourself, “Why are you cast down, oh my soul? And why are you disquieted in me? Hope in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.” What is there on earth that is worth fretting over even for five minutes? If one could gain an imperial crown by a day of care, it would be too great an expense for a thing which would bring more care with it. Therefore, let us be thankful, let us be joyful in the Lord. I think it is one of the wisest things that, by rejoicing in the Lord, we begin our heaven here below. It is possible to do so, it is profitable to do so, and we are commanded to do so.

3. Now I come to the text itself, “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, ‘Rejoice.’ ”

4. I. It will be our first business at this time to consider THE GRACE COMMANDED, this grace of joy; “Rejoice in the Lord,” says the apostle.

5. In the first place, this is a very delightful thing. What a gracious God we serve, who makes delight to be a duty, and who commands us to rejoice! Should we not at once be obedient to such a command as this? It is intended that we should be happy. That is the meaning of the precept, that we should be cheerful; more than that, that we should be thankful; more than that, that we should rejoice. I think this word “rejoice” is almost a French word; it is not only joy, but it is joy over again, re-joice. You know re usually means the reduplication of a thing, the taking it over again. We are to joy, and then we are to re-joy. We are to chew the cud of delight; we are to roll the dainty morsel under our tongue until we get the very essence out of it. “Rejoice.” Joy is a delightful thing. You cannot be too happy, brother. No, do not suspect yourself of being wrong because you are full of delight. You know it is said of the divine wisdom, “Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.” Provided that it is joy in the Lord, you cannot have too much of it. The fly is drowned in the honey, or the sweet syrup into which he plunges himself; but this heavenly syrup of delight will not drown your soul, or intoxicate your heart. It will do you good, and not evil, all the days of your life. God never commanded us to do a thing which would really harm us; and when he tells us to rejoice, we may be sure that this is as delightful as it is safe, and as safe as it is delightful. Come, brothers and sisters, I am inviting you now to no distasteful duty when, in the name of my Master, I say to you, as Paul said to the Philippians under the teaching of the Holy Spirit, “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say,‘ Rejoice.’ ”

6. But, next, this is a demonstrative duty: “Rejoice in the Lord.” There may be such a thing as a silent joy, but I hardly think that it can keep silent for long. Joy! joy! Why, it speaks for itself! It is like a candle lit in a dark room; you need not sound a trumpet, and say, “Now light has come.” The candle proclaims itself by its own brilliance; and when joy comes into a man, it shines out of his eyes, it sparkles in his countenance. There is something about every limb of the man that indicates that his body, like a well-tuned harp, has had its strings put in order. Joy — it refreshes the marrow of the bones; it quickens the flowing of the blood in the veins; it is a healthy thing in all respects. It is a speaking thing, a demonstrative thing; and I am sure that joy in the Lord ought to have a tongue. When the Lord sends you affliction, sister, you generally grumble loudly enough; when the Lord tests you, my dear brother, you generally speak fast enough about that. Now when, on the other hand, the Lord multiplies his mercies to you, do speak about it, do sing about it. I cannot remember, since I was a boy, ever seeing in the newspapers, columns of thankfulness and expressions of delight about the prosperity of business in England. It is a long, long time since I was first able to read newspapers — a great many years now; but I do not remember the paragraphs in which it was said that everyone was prospering on in the world, and growing rich; but as soon as there was any depression in business, what lugubrious {doleful} articles appeared concerning the dreadful times which had fallen on the agricultural interest and every other interest! Oh, my dear brethren, from the way some of you grumble, I might imagine you were all ruined if I did not know better! I knew some of you when you were not worth twopence, and you are pretty well-to-do-now; you have gotten on uncommonly well for men who are being ruined! From the way some people talk, you might imagine that everyone is bankrupt, and that we are all going to the dogs together; but it is not so, and what a pity it is that we do not give the Lord some of our praises when we have better times! If we are so loud and so eloquent over our present woes, why could we not have been as eloquent and as loud in thanksgiving for the blessings that God formerly bestowed on us? Perhaps the mercies buried in oblivion have been to heaven, and accused us to the Lord, and therefore he has sent us the sorrows of today. True joy, when it is joy in the Lord, must speak; it cannot hold its tongue, it must praise the name of the Lord.

7. Further, this blessed grace of joy is very contagious. It is a great privilege, I think, to meet a truly happy man, a graciously happy man. My mind goes back at this moment to that dear man of God who used to be with us, years ago, whom we called “Old Father Dransfield.” What a lump of sunshine that man was! I think that I never came into this place, with a heavy heart, but the very sight of him seemed to fill me with exhilaration, for his joy was all in his God! An old man and full of years, but as full of happiness as he was full of days; always having something to tell you to encourage you. He constantly made a discovery of some fresh mercy for which we were again to praise God. Oh dear brethren, let us rejoice in the Lord, that we may set others rejoicing! One dolorous spirit brings a kind of plague into the house; one person who is always wretched seems to stop all the birds singing wherever he goes; but, just as the birds pipe to each other, and one morning singer quickens all the rest, and sets the groves ringing with harmony, so will it be with the happy cheerful spirit of a man who obeys the command of the text, “Rejoice in the Lord always.” This grace of joy is contagious.

8. Besides, dear brethren, joy in the Lord is influential for good. I am sure that there is a mighty influence wielded by a consistently joyful spirit. See how little children are affected by the presence of a happy person. There is much more in the tone of the life than there is in the particular fashion of the life. It may be the life of one who is very poor, but oh, how poverty is gilded by a cheerful spirit! It may be the life of one who is well read and deeply instructed; but, oh, if there is a beauty of holiness, and a beauty of happiness added to the learning, no one talks about “the blue stocking” {a} or “the book worm” being dull and heavy. Oh, no, there is a charm about holy joy! I wish we had more of it! There are many more flies caught with honey than with vinegar; and there are many more sinners brought to Christ by happy Christians than by doleful Christians. Let us sing to the Lord as long as we live; and, maybe, some weary sinner, who has discovered the emptiness of sinful pleasure, will say to himself, “Why, after all, there must be something real about the joy of these Christians; let me go and learn how I may have it.” And when he comes and sees it in the light of your cheerful countenance, he will be likely to learn it, God helping him, so as never to forget it. “Rejoice in the Lord always,” says the apostle, for joy is a most influential grace, and every child of God ought to possess it to a high degree.

9. I want you to notice, dear friends, that this rejoicing is commanded. It is not a matter that is left to your option; it is not set before you as a desirable thing which you can do without, but it is a positive precept of the Holy Spirit to all who are in the Lord: “Rejoice in the Lord always.” We ought to obey this precept because joy in the Lord makes us like God. He is the happy God; ineffable bliss is the atmosphere in which he lives, and he would have his people to be happy. Let the devotees of Baal cut themselves with knives and lancets, and make hideous outcries if they wish; but the servants of Jehovah must not even mar the corners of their beard. Even if they fast, they shall anoint their head, and wash their face, so that they do not appear to men to fast, for a joyful God desires a joyful people.

10. You are commanded to rejoice, brethren, because this is for your profit. Holy joy will oil the wheels of your life’s machinery. Holy joy will strengthen you for your daily labour. Holy joy will beautify you, and, as I have already said, give you an influence over the lives of others. It is on this point that I would most of all insist, we are commanded to rejoice in the Lord. If you cannot speak the gospel, live the gospel by your cheerfulness; for what is the gospel? Glad tidings of great joy; and you who believe it must show by its effect on you that it is glad tidings of great joy to you I believe that a man of God — under trial and difficulty and affliction, bearing up, and patiently submitting with holy acquiescence, and still rejoicing in God — is a real preacher of the gospel, preaching with an eloquence which is mightier than words can ever be, and which will find its secret and silent way into the hearts of those who might have resisted other arguments. Oh, do, then, listen to the text, for it is a command from God, “Rejoice in the Lord always!”

11. May I just pause here, and hand this commandment around to all of you who are members of this church, and to all of you who are truly members of Christ? You are told to rejoice in the Lord always; you are not allowed to sit there, and fret, and fume; you are not permitted to complain and groan. Mourner, you are commanded to put on beauty for ashes, and the oil of joy for mourning. For this purpose your Saviour came, the Spirit of the Lord is on him for this very purpose, that he might make you to rejoice. Therefore, sing with the prophet, “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”

12. II. Now we come to the second point, on which I will speak only briefly; that is, THE JOY DISCRIMINATED: “Rejoice in the Lord.”

13. Notice the sphere of this joy: “Rejoice in the Lord.” We read in Scripture that children are to obey their parents “in the Lord.” We read of men and women being married “only in the Lord.” Now, dear friends, no child of God must go outside that ring, “in the Lord.” There is the place where you are, where you ought to be, where you must be. You cannot truly rejoice if you get outside that ring; therefore, see that you do nothing which you cannot do “in the Lord.” Be careful that you seek no joy which is not joy in the Lord; if you go after the poisonous sweets of this world, woe be to you. Never rejoice in what is sinful, for all such rejoicing is evil. Flee from it; it can do you no good. That joy which you cannot share with God is not an appropriate joy for you. No; “in the Lord” is the sphere of your joy.

14. But I think that the apostle also means that God is to be the great object of your joy: “Rejoice in the Lord.” Rejoice in the Father, your Father who is in heaven, your loving, tender, unchangeable God. Rejoice, too, in the Son, your Redeemer, your Brother, the Husband of your soul, your Prophet, Priest, and King. Rejoice also in the Holy Spirit, your Quickener, your Comforter, in him who shall remain with you for ever. Rejoice in the one God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob; delight yourselves in him, as it is written, “Delight yourself also in the Lord; and he shall give you the desires of your heart.” We cannot have too much of this joy in the Lord, for the great Jehovah is our very great joy. Or if, by “the Lord” is meant the Lord Jesus, then let me invite, persuade, command you to delight in the Lord Jesus, incarnate in your flesh, dead for your sins, risen for your justification, gone into glory claiming victory for you, sitting at the right hand of God interceding for you, reigning over all worlds on your behalf, and soon to come to take you up into his glory so that you may be with him for ever. Rejoice in the Lord Jesus. This is a sea of delight; blessed are those who dive into its utmost depths.

15. Sometimes, brothers and sisters, you cannot rejoice in anything else, but you can rejoice in the Lord; then, rejoice in him to the full. Do not rejoice in your temporal prosperity, for riches take wings and fly away. Do not rejoice even in your great successes in the work of God. Remember how the seventy disciples came back to Jesus, and said, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us through your name,” and he answered, “Notwithstanding do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.” Do not rejoice in your privileges; I mean, do not make the great joy of your life to be the fact that you are favoured with this and that external privilege or ordinance, but rejoice in God. He does not change. If the Lord is your joy, your joy will never dry up. All other things are only for a time; but God is for ever and ever. Make him your joy, all of your joy, and then let this joy absorb your every thought. Be baptized into this joy; plunge into the depths of this unutterable bliss of joy in God.

16. III. Thirdly, let us think of THE TIME APPOINTED for this rejoicing: “Rejoice in the Lord always.”

17. “Always.” Well, then, that begins at once, certainly; so let us now begin to rejoice in the Lord. If any of you have taken a gloomy view of religion, I beseech you to throw that gloomy view away at once. “Rejoice in the Lord always,” therefore, rejoice in the Lord now. I remember what a damper I had, as a young Christian, when I had only recently believed in Jesus Christ. I felt that, as the Lord had said, “He who believes in me has everlasting life,” I, having believed in him, had everlasting life, and I said so, with the greatest joy and delight and enthusiasm, to an old Christian man; and he said to me, “Beware of presumption! There are a great many who think they have eternal life, but who have not got it,” which was quite true; but, for all that, is there not more presumption in doubting God’s promise than there is in believing it? Is there any presumption in taking God at his word? Is there not gross presumption in hesitating and questioning as to whether these things are so or not? If God says that they are so, then they are so, whether I feel that they are so or not; and it is my place, as a believer, to accept God’s bare word, and rest on it. “We consider cheques as cash,” said one who was making up accounts. Good cheques are to be counted as cash, and the promises of God, though as yet unfulfilled, are as good as the blessings themselves, for God cannot lie, or make a promise that he will not perform. Let us, therefore, not be afraid of being glad, but begin to be glad at once if we have so far taken a gloomy view of true religion, and have been afraid to rejoice.

18. When are we to be glad? “Rejoice in the Lord always”; that is, when you cannot rejoice in anything or anyone but God. When the fig tree does not blossom, when there is no fruit on the vine and no herd in the stall, when everything withers and decays and perishes, when the worm at the root of the gourd has made it to die, then rejoice in the Lord. When the day darkens into evening, and the evening into midnight, and the midnight into a sevenfold horror of great darkness, rejoice in the Lord; and when that darkness does not clear, but becomes more dense and Egyptian, when night succeeds night, and neither sun nor moon nor stars appear, still rejoice in the Lord always. He who uttered these words had been a night and a day in the deep, he had been stoned, he had suffered from false brethren, he had been in peril of his life, and yet most fittingly do those lips cry out to us, “Rejoice in the Lord always.” Indeed, at the stake itself martyrs have fulfilled this word; they clapped their hands amid the fire that was consuming them. Therefore, rejoice in the Lord when you cannot rejoice in anything else.

19. But also take care that you rejoice in the Lord when you have other things to rejoice in. When he loads your table with good things, and your cup is overflowing with blessings, rejoice in him more than in them. Do not forget that the Lord your Shepherd is better than the green pastures and the still waters, and do not rejoice in the pastures or in the waters in comparison with your joy in the Shepherd who gives you everything. Let us never make gods out of our goods; let us never allow what God gives us to supplant the Giver. Shall the wife love the jewels that her husband gave her better than she loves him who gave them to her? That would be a very poor love, or no love at all. So, let us love God first, and rejoice in the Lord always when the day is brightest, and the other joys are multiplied that he permits us to have.

20. “Rejoice in the Lord always.” That is, if you have not rejoiced before, begin to do so at once; and when you have long rejoiced, keep on at it. I have known, sometimes, that things have gone so smoothly that I have said, “There will be an end to this prosperity; I know that there will. Things cannot go on quite so pleasantly always.”

    More the treacherous calm I dread
    Than tempests lowering overhead.

One is apt to spoil his joy by the apprehension that there is some evil coming. Now listen to this: “He shall not be afraid of bad news: his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord.” “Rejoice in the Lord always.” Do not anticipate trouble. “Sufficient for the day is its evil.” Take the good that God provides you, and rejoice not merely in it, but in him who provided it. So you may enjoy it without fear, for there is good salt with that food which is eaten as coming from the hand of God.

21. “Rejoice in the Lord always.” That is, when you get into company, then rejoice in the Lord. Do not be ashamed to let others see that you are glad. Rejoice in the Lord also when you are alone. I know what happens to some of you on Sunday night. You have had such a blessed Sabbath, and you have gone away from the Lord’s table with the very flavour of heaven in your mouths; and then some of you have had to go home where everything is against you. The husband does not receive you with any sympathy with your joy, or the father does not welcome you with any fellowship in your delight. Well, but still, “Rejoice in the Lord always.” When you cannot get anyone else to rejoice with you, still continue to rejoice. There is a way of looking at everything which will show you that the blackest cloud has a silver lining. There is a way of looking at all things in the light of God, which will turn into sweetness what otherwise had been bitter as gall. I do not know whether any of you keep a quassia cup at home. If you do, you know that it is made of wood, and you pour water into the bowl, and the water turns bitter immediately before you drink it. You may keep this cup as long as you like, but it always embitters the water that is put into it. I think that I know some dear brothers and sisters who always seem to have one of these cups handy. Now, instead of that, I want you to buy a cup of another kind that shall make everything sweet, whatever it is. Whatever God pleases to pour out of the bowl of providence shall come into your cup, and your contentment, your delight in God, shall sweeten it all. May God bless you, dear friends, with much of this holy joy!

22. IV. So now I finish with the fourth point, which is this, THE EMPHASIS LAID ON THE COMMAND: “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, ‘Rejoice.’ ” What does that mean, “Again I say, ‘Rejoice’?”

23. This was, first, to show Paul’s love for the Philippians. He wanted them to be happy. They had been so kind to him, and they had made him so happy, that he said, “Oh, dear brothers, do rejoice; dear sisters, do rejoice. I say it twice over to you, ‘Be happy, be happy,’ because I love you so well that I am anxious to have you beyond everything else to rejoice in the Lord always.”

24. I also think that, perhaps, he said it twice over to suggest the difficulty of continual joy. It is not so easy as some think to always rejoice. It may be for you young people, who are still strong in limb, who have few aches and pains, and none of the infirmities of life. It may be an easy thing to those placed in easy circumstances, with few cares and difficulties; but there are some of God’s people who need great grace if they are to rejoice in the Lord always; and the apostle knew that, so he said, “Again I say, ‘Rejoice.’ ” He repeats the precept, as much as to say, “I know it is a difficult thing, and so I all the more earnestly press it on you. Again I say, ‘Rejoice.’ ”

25. I think, too, that he said it twice over, to assert the possibility of it. This was as much as if he had said, “I told you to rejoice in the Lord always. You opened your eyes, and looked with astonishment at me; but, ‘Again I say, "Rejoice."’ It is possible, it is practical; I have not spoken unwisely. I have not told you to do what you never can do; but with deliberation I write it down, ‘Again I say, "Rejoice."’ You can be happy. God the Holy Spirit can lift you above the down-draggings of the flesh, and of the world, and of the devil; and you may be enabled to live on the mount of God beneath the shinings of his face. ‘Again I say, "Rejoice."’ ”

26. Do you not think that this was intended also to impress on them the importance of the duty? “Again I say, ‘Rejoice.’ ” Some of you will go and say, “I do not think that it matters much whether I am happy or not, I shall get to heaven, however gloomy I am, if I am sincere.” “No,” says Paul, “that kind of talk will not do; I cannot have you speak like that. Come, I must have you rejoice, I really conceive it to be a Christian’s bounden duty, and so, ‘Again, I say, "Rejoice".’ ”

27. But do you not think, also, that Paul repeated the command to allow for special personal testimony? “Again, I say, ‘Rejoice.’ I, Paul, a sufferer to the utmost extent for Christ’s sake, even now an ambassador in bonds, locked up in a dungeon, I say to you, ‘Rejoice.’ ” Paul was a greatly tried man, but he was a blessedly happy man. Everyone of us would gladly change places with Paul, if that were possible, now that we see his entire life written out; and tonight, looking across the ages, over all the scenes of trouble which he encountered, he says to us, “Brethren, rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, ‘Rejoice.’ ”

28. Did you ever notice how full of joy this Epistle to the Philippians is? Will you spare me just a minute while I get you to run your eye through it, to observe what a joyful letter it is? You notice that, in the first chapter, Paul gets only as far as the fourth verse when he says, “Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy.” Now he is in his right vein; he is so glad because of what God has done for the Philippians that, when he prays for them, he mixes joy with his prayer. In the eighteenth verse, he declares that he found joy even in the opposition of those who preached Christ in order to rival him. Hear what he says: “The one preach Christ in contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: but the other in love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel. What then? Notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I rejoice in it, yes, and will rejoice.” And he does not finish the chapter until, in the twenty-fifth verse, he declares that he had joy even in the expectation of not going to heaven just yet, but living a little longer to do good to these people: “And having this confidence, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith; that your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again.” You see it is joy, joy, joy, joy. Paul seems to go from rung to rung of the ladder of light, as if he were climbing up from Nero’s dungeon into heaven itself by way of continual joy. So he writes, in the second verse of the second chapter, “Fulfil my joy, that you be like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.” When he gets to the sixteenth verse, he says, “That I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.”

29. But I am afraid that I should weary you if I went through the Epistle like this, slowly, verse by verse. Just notice how he begins the third chapter: “Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord.” The word is sometimes rendered “farewell.” When he says, “Rejoice,” it is the counterpart of “welcome.” We say to a man who comes to our house, “Welcome.” When he goes away, it is our duty to “speed the parting guest,” and say, “Farewell.” This is what Paul meant to say here. “Finally, my brethren, farewell in the Lord. Be happy in the Lord. Rejoice in the Lord” And I do not think that I can finish up my sermon any better than by saying on this Sabbath night, “Finally, my brethren, farewell, be happy in the Lord.”

    Fare thee well! and if for ever,
       Still for ever, fare thee well.

May that be your position, so to walk with God that your fare shall be that of angels! May you eat angels’ food, the manna of God’s love! May your drink be from the rock that flows with a pure stream! So may you feed and so may you drink until you come to the mount of God, where you shall see his face unveiled, and standing in his very great brightness, shall know his glory, being glorified with the saved. Until then, be happy. Why, even —

    The thought of such amazing bliss,
       Should constant joys create.

Be happy. If the present is dreary, it will soon be over. Oh, in only a little while, and we shall be transferred from these seats below to the thrones above! We shall go from the place of aching brows to the place where they all wear crowns, from the place of weary hands to where they bear the palm branch of victory, from the place of mistake and error and sin, and subsequent grief, to the place where they are without fault before the throne of God, for they have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Come, then, let us make a solemn league and covenant together in the name of God, and let it be called, “The Guild of the Happy”; for the —

    Favourites of the Heavenly King
       May speak their joys abroad;

indeed they must speak their joys abroad; let us endeavour to do so always, by the help of the Holy Spirit. Amen and Amen.

{a} Blue Stocking lady: originally one who frequented Mrs. Montague’s “Blue Stocking” assemblies; thence transferred sneeringly to any woman showing a taste for learning, a literary lady. OED.

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {Php 4}

This Epistle was written by Paul when he was in prison, with iron fetters on his wrists; yet there is no iron in the Epistle. It is full of light, life, love, and joy, blended with traces of sorrow, yet with a holy delight that rises above his grief.

1. Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand firm in the Lord, my dearly beloved.

See how the heart of the apostle is at work; his emotions are not dried up by his personal griefs. He takes a delight in his friends at Philippi; he has a vivid memory of the time when he and Silas were locked up in prison there, and that same night baptized the jailor and his household, and formed the church at Philippi.

2. I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord.

These two good women had fallen out with each other. Paul loves them so much that he would not have any strife in the church to mar its harmony; and therefore he beseeches both of these good women to end their quarrel, and to “be of the same mind in the Lord.” You cannot tell what harm may come to a church through two members being at enmity against each other. They may be unknown people, they may be Christian women, but they can work no end of mischief; and therefore it is a most desirable thing that they should speedily come together again in peace and unity.

3. And I entreat you also, true yoke-fellow, help those women who laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellow labourers, whose names are in the book of life.

He tenderly thinks of all those who had helped the work of the Lord, and, in return, he would have all of them helped, and kindly remembered, and affectionately cherished. May we always have this tender feeling towards each other, especially towards those who work for the Lord with us! May we always delight in cheering those who serve our Lord!

4, 5. Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, “Rejoice.” Let your moderation be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.

We have come to understand this word “moderation” in a sense not at all intended here. The best translation would probably be “forbearance.” Do not get angry with anyone; do not begin to get fiery and impetuous: be forbearing, for the Lord is at hand. You cannot tell how soon he may appear; there is no time to spare for the indulgence of anger; be quiet; be patient; and if there is anything very wrong, well, leave it. Our Lord Jesus will come very soon; therefore do not be impatient.

6. Be careful —

That is, be anxious —

6. For nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

See how the apostle would tell us to throw anxiety to the winds; let us try to do so. You cannot turn one hair white or black, fret as you may. You cannot add a cubit to your stature, no matter how anxious you are. It will be for your own advantage, and it will be for God’s glory, for you to shake off the anxieties which otherwise might overshadow your spirit. Be anxious about nothing, but prayerful about everything, and be thankful about everything as well. Is that not a beautiful trait in Paul’s character? He is a prisoner at Rome, and likely to die soon; yet he mingles thanksgiving with his supplication, and asks others to do the same. We always have something for which to thank God, therefore let us also obey the apostolic injunction.

7, 8. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there is any virtue, and if there is any praise, think on these things.

If there is any really good movement in the world, help it, you Christian people. If it is not purely and absolutely religious, yet if it tends to the benefit of your fellow men, if it promotes honesty, justice, purity, take care that you are on that side, and do all you can to help it succeed.

9. Those things, which you have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do:

Paul was a grand preacher to be able to say that; to hold up his own example, as well as his own teaching, as a thing which the people might safely follow.

9. And the God of peace shall be with you.

In the seventh verse, we had the expression, “the peace of God.” In this ninth verse, we have the mention of “the God of peace.” May we first enjoy the peace of God, and then be helped by the Spirit of God to get into an even higher region, where we shall be more fully acquainted with the God of peace!

10. But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me has flourished again; in which you were also careful, but you lacked opportunity.

“I rejoiced.” So Paul was himself in a happy mood; these saints in Philippi had sent to him in prison a gift by the hand of one of their pastors, and Paul, in his deep poverty, had been much comforted by their kind thoughtfulness about him.

11. Not that I speak in respect of poverty: for I have learned, in whatever state I am, to be content with it.

That was not an easy lesson to learn, especially when one of those states meant being in prison at Rome. If he was ever in the Mamertine, those of us who have been in that dungeon would confess that it would take a great deal of grace to make us content to be there; and if he was confined in the prison of the Palatine hill, in the barracks near the morass, it was, to say the least, not a desirable place to be in. A soldier chained to your hand day and night, however good a fellow he may be, does not always make the most delightful company for you, nor you for him; and it takes some time to learn to be content with such a companion; but, says Paul, “I have learned, in whatever state I am, to be content with it.”

12. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.

These are both hard lessons to learn; I do not know which is the more difficult of the two. Probably it is easier to know how to go down than to know how to go up. How many Christians have I seen grandly glorifying God in sickness and poverty when they have come down in the world; and ah! how often have I seen other Christians dishonouring God when they have grown rich, or when they have risen to a position of influence among their fellow men! These two lessons grace alone can fully teach us.

13. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

What a gracious attainment! There is no boasting in this declaration; Paul only spoke what was literally the truth.

14, 15. Notwithstanding you have done well, that you shared with me in my affliction. Now you Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me as concerning giving and receiving, but only you.

The Philippians were the only Christians who had sent any help to this great sufferer for Christ’s sake in the time of his need.

16-18. For even in Thessalonica you sent once and again to my necessity. Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account. But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God.

I do not suppose that they sent him very much; but he knew the love that prompted the gift, he understood what they meant by it. I always had the idea that Lydia was the first to suggest that kind deed. She, the first convert of the Philippian church, thought of Paul, I do not doubt, and said to the other believers, “Let us take care of him as far as we can. See how he spends his whole life in the Master’s service, and now he may at last die in prison for lack of even common necessities; let us send him a present to Rome.” How grateful is the apostle for that gift of love! What gladness they had put into his heart! Now he says: —

19. But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

“You have supplied my need out of your poverty; my God shall supply all your need out of his riches. Your greatest need shall not exceed the generosity of his supplies.”

20, 21. Now to God and our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen. Greet every saint in Christ Jesus.

The religion of Christ is full of courtesy, and it is full of generous thoughtfulness. I do not think that he can be a Christian who has no knowledge nor care about his fellow church members.

21. The brethren who are with me greet you.

They saw that he was writing a letter, and they therefore said, “Send our love to the Philippians.”

22. All the saints greet you, chiefly those who are in Caesar’s household.

Only think of saints in the household of Nero, saints in the service of such a demon as he was, and saints who were first in every good thing: “Chiefly those who are in Caesar’s household.”

23. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Spirit of the Psalms — Psalm 136” 136}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Joy and Peace — Heavenly Joys On Earth” 720}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Heaven — Spiritual And Eternal Joys” 870}


Spirit of the Psalms
Psalm 136 (Song 1) <7s.>
1 Let us, with a gladsome mind,
   Praise the Lord, for he is kind:
   For his mercies shall endure,
   Ever faithful, ever sure.
2 Let us sound his name abroad,
   For of gods he is the God:
   For his mercies shall endure,
   Ever faithful, ever sure.
3 He, with all commanding might,
   Fill’d the new made world with light;
   For his mercies shall endure,
   Ever faithful, ever sure.
4 All things living he doth feed;
   His full hand supplies their need:
   For his mercies shall endure,
   Ever faithful, ever sure.
5 He his chosen race did bless
   In the wasteful wilderness:
   For his mercies shall endure,
   Ever faithful, ever sure.
6 He hath, with a piteous eye,
   Look’d upon our misery:
   For his mercies shall endure,
   Ever faithful, ever sure.
7 Let us then, with gladsome mind,
   Praise the Lord, for he is kind,
   For his mercies shall endure,
   Ever faithful, ever sure.
                           John Milton, 1645


Psalm 136 (Song 2) L.M.
1 Give to our God immortal praise;
   Mercy and truth are all his ways:
   Wonders of grace to God belong,
   Repeat his mercies in your song.
2 Give to the Lord of lords renown,
   The King of kings with glory crown;
   His mercies ever shall endure,
   When lords and kings are known no more.
3 He built the earth, he spread the sky,
   And fix’d the starry lights on high:
   Wonders of grace to God belong,
   Repeat his mercies in your song.
4 He fills the sun with morning light,
   He bids the moon direct the night:
   His mercies ever shall endure,
   When suns and moons shall shine no more.
5 The Jews he freed from Pharaoh’s hand,
   And brought them to the promised land:
   Wonders of grace to God belong,
   Repeat his mercies in your song.
6 He saw the Gentiles dead in sin,
   And felt his pity work within:
   His mercies ever shall endure,
   When death and sin shall reign no more.
7 He sent his Son with power to save
   From guilt, and darkness, and the grave
   Wonders of grace to God belong,
   Repeat his mercies in your song.
8 Through this vain world he guides our feet,
   And leads us to his heavenly seat;
   His mercies ever shall endure,
   When this vain world shall be no more.
                        Isaac Watts, 1719.


The Christian, Joy and Peace
720 — Heavenly Joys On Earth
1 Come, we that love the Lord,
      And let our joys be known;
   Join in a song with sweet accord,
      And thus surround the throne.
2 The sorrows of the mind,
      Be banish’d from the place;
   Religion never was design’d
      To make our pleasures less.
3 Let those refuse to sing
      That never knew our God;
   But favourites of the heavenly King
      May speak their joys abroad.
4 The God that rules on high,
      And thunders when he please,
   That rides upon the stormy sky,
      And manages the seas:
5 This awful God is ours,
      Our Father and our love;
   He shall send down his heavenly powers
      To carry us above.
6 There shall we see his face,
      And never, never sin;
   There from the rivers of his grace,
      Drink endless pleasures in.
7 Yes! and before we rise
      To that immortal state,
   The thoughts of such amazing bliss
      Should constant joys create.
8 The men of grace have found
      Glory begun below;
   Celestial fruits on earthly ground
      From faith and hope may grow.
9 The hill of Zion yields
      A thousand sacred sweets,
   Before we reach the heavenly fields,
      Or walk the golden streets.
10 Then let our songs abound,
      And every tear be dry:
   We’re marching though Immanuel’s ground
      To fairer worlds on high.
                           Isaac Watts, 1709.


The Christian, Heaven
870 — Spiritual And Eternal Joys
1 From thee, my God, my joys shall rise
      And run eternal rounds,
   Beyond the limits of the skies,
      And all created bounds.
2 The holy triumphs of my soul
      Shall death itself outbrave;
   Leave dull mortality behind,
      And fly beyond the grave.
3 There, where my blessed Jesus reigns,
      In heaven’s unmeasured space,
   I’ll spend a long eternity
      In pleasure and in praise.
4 Millions of years my wondering eyes,
      Shall o’er thy beauties rove;
   And endless ages I’ll adore,
      The glories of thy love.
5 Sweet Jesus, every smile of thine
      Shall fresh endearments bring;
   And thousand tastes of new delight
      From all thy graces spring.
6 Haste, my Beloved, fetch my soul
      Up to thy bless’d abode:
   Fly, for my spirit longs to see
      My Saviour and my God.
                        Isaac Watts, 1709.

Spurgeon Sermons

These sermons from Charles Spurgeon are a series that is for reference and not necessarily a position of Answers in Genesis. Spurgeon did not entirely agree with six days of creation and dives into subjects that are beyond the AiG focus (e.g., Calvinism vs. Arminianism, modes of baptism, and so on).

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Modernized Edition of Spurgeon’s Sermons. Copyright © 2010, Larry and Marion Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario, Canada. Used by Answers in Genesis by permission of the copyright owner. The modernized edition of the material published in these sermons may not be reproduced or distributed by any electronic means without express written permission of the copyright owner. A limited license is hereby granted for the non-commercial printing and distribution of the material in hard copy form, provided this is done without charge to the recipient and the copyright information remains intact. Any charge or cost for distribution of the material is expressly forbidden under the terms of this limited license and automatically voids such permission. You may not prepare, manufacture, copy, use, promote, distribute, or sell a derivative work of the copyrighted work without the express written permission of the copyright owner.

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