Have you ever heard the old adage, “You can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your friend’s nose?” I always thought that was funny…and kind of gross. But it does exemplify that there are things in life you can choose and some things you can’t. Paul has some things to show us about picking….
Have you ever heard the old adage, “You can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your friend’s nose?” I always thought that was funny…and kind of gross. But it does exemplify that there are things in life you can choose and some things you can’t.
Rejoice in the Lord always [delight, gladden yourselves in Him]; again I say, Rejoice! (Philippians 4:4)
I find it interesting that here, of all places, Paul says to rejoice in the Lord…and he repeated himself…REJOICE! In fact, the words “joy” and “rejoice” are used 16 times in this book.
And I say “here of all places” because of where Paul was sitting when he wrote these words. He wasn’t in the best of situations. He wasn’t in a church surrounded by a loving congregation. He wasn’t sitting at the ocean on a warm sunny day enjoying God’s creation.
It wasn’t a “warm fuzzy” kind of day. He was sitting in prison. He didn’t have freedom. He couldn’t move about as he wished. He was under guard day and night. PRISON.
For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. (Philippians 1:20)
The fact that he said, “Whether I live or die,” here shows he wasn’t sure what the outcome of his imprisonment would be. Would he live or would they take his life? He certainly wouldn’t have been the first Christian martyred at the time…Stephen and James had been killed for their faith along with many, many others.
So Paul is in prison and possibly facing death, and he tells the Philippian church to rejoice – 16 times. Why?
Because you can’t pick your friend’s nose, but you can pick your nose.
You don’t get to pick your circumstances, but you can pick your attitude.
Many of us let the circumstances of our lives dictate our attitude. Dictate our actions. Dictate our emotions. “Well, if I had more money, I would be happy.” “If I wasn’t sick, I would have a better attitude.” “If my job wasn’t so horrible, I would have a better attitude for sure.” “If the weather would just change, all would be well in my world.”
Paul didn’t say, “Rejoice in the Lord when everything is going well, and if it’s not, then it’s okay to complain and be depressed and have a bad attitude.” No! He said, “In spite of what you’re facing, in spite of what you’re dealing with, REJOICE!”
Pick your nose! Pick joy! Choose a good attitude! Rejoice!
When we allow our circumstances and situations to dictate how we act and what our attitude is, that thing takes center stage in our lives. It’s what we focus on. It almost becomes like god to us.
When we are complaining and down about what’s going on around us, it’s a good indication that we are NOT focused on God and all He’s done for us.
We can read in the OT about what happened when the Israelites complained. In fact one time in Numbers, they complained and God sent deadly snakes among them. That’s when He told Moses to have them look up at the brass serpent (which is a type of Jesus) and they would live.
I wonder if He was just trying to get their eyes off what they were complaining about (what they didn’t have) and focused on the AMAZING ONE who was right there with them the whole time.
God was like, “Hello! I’m here. See the pillar of fire and cloud? See the manna? See how safe I’ve kept you? See how I’ve rescued you? Am I not enough?”
You can’t look up and see Him in His glory and power and still complain and have a bad attitude at the same time. There is no faith in complaining, but when you REJOICE in the midst of adverse circumstances, your whole attitude changes to faith. You rejoice because you know He is with you and is working on your behalf right now to change it.
Joy in the middle of a storm is FAITH! And God responds to faith.
We may not be able to change our situations….but we don’t have to let our situations direct our attitudes. So, let’s look full-on at His wonderful face and choose joy.
Turn your 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.