One of the issues with lifting a sentence or even two or three words out of a Bible passage is that we then don't hear them in the right context. Paul didn't write in soundbites and his letters were written to address specific issues within the church to which he wrote. ''Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice'' is one of his most popular sentences, but is actually addressed to the issue of division and also-the implication of his words-missionary burnout. Two female believers were in disagreement with each other, but these were no 'sit on your hands, believe what you hear and do nothing about it' Christians, but committed to spreading the Good News of the Gospel. Paul feels a great deal of sympathy for these two women, because their hearts were in the right place. You may recall that, in the book of Acts, we read about a disagreement between Paul and Barnabas over whether they should continue to invite Mark with them on their travels. That ended with Barnabas and Paul working separately for a while. So, that famous sentence was written by Paul to emphasise that disunity can be caused by taking our eye off the King. We get so involved in 'working for Jesus' that we forget or no longer have time to: 'Turn our eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.' We are commanded to rejoice, because it is as we worship that we begin to experience God in His greatness and rehearse for the endless songs of praise in eternity! One of the very sad things about church in lockdown is not being allowed to sing and that is not just because it is wonderful to exercise our voices in singing great songs, but because our spirits are lifted and not in a football chant kind of way, but we are reminded in our souls that Christ is victorious and that we are part of His family!
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