Jump Starts Daily

Jump Start #3533

Jump Start # 3533

Philippians 4:4 “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!”

    It sure seemed like an odd statement when I read it for the first time. I immediately thought, “No, that’s not true.” The statement: “Most Christians seem to handle pain better than pleasure. They handle bad news better than good news.” There was no statistical numbers to support that claim. There was no footnote referencing some detailed study of this. Just an observation. We handle pain better than pleasure. But the more I thought about this, the more I was agreeing with that statement.

  Consider our sermon topics and class choices. We study the book of Job. We preach about the valleys of the shadow of death. We talk about persecution. We mention the outer man is decaying. We talk about death. We have done a good job of preparing ourselves to weather the storms in life. Sorrow and suffering takes us to praying. Jesus, the suffering servant. The apostle Paul, beaten and struck down so many times. Fear, worry, doubt—we deal with that trio all the time. I know I have. But, how many times do we talk about the sunshine of life? How rare to preach, “Things are great in your life.” Oh, we sing, “I’m happy today, oh, yes, I’m happy today,” but we feel a bit guilty admitting that.

  Here are some thoughts:

  First, we feel like something is wrong if something is going right in our lives. Money in the pocket, health in the body, the kids are doing well, job is doing well, marriage is great, we feel ashamed to admit those things. Somewhere there must be some pain in our lives. You aren’t doing right unless you have some trouble. That mindset, not based upon the Bible, but how we perceive things, keeps us from rejoicing. Could that be a reason so many of us walk around with frowns all the time. To be smiling, to be happy, simply isn’t right in our thinking.

  It’s like a child that was standing in the pew, smiling at all the people sitting behind her. The child’s mother looked over with a stern look upon her face. She pulled the child down and slapped her little leg. The child started crying and the mother said, “Now, that’s the way we ought to be.” Really?

  Second, running through so many Psalms is the idea of rejoicing and gladness when one came to worship. I was glad when they said to me, Let us go to the house of the Lord, (122:1). The Psalmist declared, “You have put gladness in my heart” (4:7). You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness (30:11). Or, so bluntly, “Be glad in the Lord” (32:11). Nearly 50 times in Psalms gladness is expressed.

  It’s hard to count your blessings without a smile on your face and thankfulness in your soul. It’s ok to be happy. It’s ok to smile in worship. It’s ok to rejoice. Everyday does not have to be gloom and doom.

  Third, maybe our lack of teaching on spiritual gladness has left people feeling guilty about this topic. Paul told the Philippians that he learned the secret of living with humble means and living in prosperity. What is that secret? Have we learned that? Do we have to apologize for doing well financially? I’ve known brethren who were very successful businessmen. Some had nice sports cars, but they would never drive them to the church building for fear of what others might think. It’s ok to drive a junker to the church house, but don’t drive a luxury car. Why? Why must we hide prosperity from others? Why are we afraid that some will judge us because we have done well? Do we fear that we are showing off? Do we fear that because we’ve done better than others or have been blessed in different ways that it is wrong to have nice things? Can the preacher have a Vette? Can the preacher be a millionaire? Those thoughts trouble many of us.

  We handle pain better than we do pleasure.

  And, because of that, we create artificial boundaries where we feel everyone needs to be. And, through the years, this has been exhibited in comments such as: “The preacher can’t make more than most of us.” Why? Who said that?

  Learning to do well with prosperity—what a great topic for a series of sermons or classes. The principle “to whom much is given, much is required,” and good stewardship fits well into a discussion like this. Abraham was rich. Lot was rich. Job was rich. Joseph of Arimathea was rich.

  The issue is not how much you have, but rather, what has you. We do better with pain than pleasure. We need to work on that. We need to learn to do well with both. We need to learn to glorify God in both.

  Pain and pleasure—what a contrast. In both, there are powerful lessons to be learned and great opportunities to serve.