Saturday, May 23, 2009

Sing With the Lord!

As a child in Christian school, I loved to sing the canon based on Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.” Most people think it a cheerful song and a cheerful sentiment.

The Message Bible translates Philippians 4:4-5 as: “Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him! Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you’re on their side, working with them and not against them.

Here, the Greek word for rejoice is not the word for exultation (agalliao). This rejoice is chairete, meaning joy, delight, gladness, gift, and grace. Our modern words, charity and charisma (gifts and gifted), stem from the root charis. The passage in Philippians is really about being gifted and giving. Give joyfully in the Lord always. Again, give! Paul says that by general prayer and specific petition, and with thanksgiving, we should present our requests to God, Who gives us everything, even transcendent, unimaginable peace. God gives us the ability, in Christ Jesus, to be true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable.

In verse 10, Paul echaren (rejoices for their gift of love and fellowship) greatly in the Lord, because his converts love him in such a tangible way. He’s learned to be as satisfied as a calf in deep pasture, whatever the circumstances or situation, because he’s resting in God’s strength to accomplish everything. He thanks the Philippians for their generosity (their donations—not charis) in supporting the gospel ministry.

With a Greek Bible and excellent reference books, it’s fascinating to trace the word charis through Philippians, where Paul uses it so often. It gives us a colorful way of seeing God’s Word anew.

Today, as you will inevitably be singing that pretty round, think about all the ways you can give joy to the Lord, in gratitude and love for all He has graced you with, and given to you. And listen carefully for the ways He antiphonally responds with the second part of the round, “Rejoice! Rejoice! And again I say rejoice!

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