By Rev. Leeroy Wilfred Kabs-Kanu :
Rejoicing should be part of all christians. Rejoicing in the Lord should be part of our lives everyday that we live. Unlike those who think they do not have cause to rejoice and who behave like they have no hope , christians whose hope is built on Christ Jesus , our Lord, should always rejoice. Whether in pain, sickness or adversity, we must learn to always rejoice in the Lord because it is part of our divine nature in Christ Jesus , our Lord. The Word of God tells us in Philippians 3: 1 to rejoice in the Lord. Philippians 4:4 also enjoins us to ”Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”
Christian joy is different from the happiness of the world. Worldly happiness is circumstantial. Theologians have tried to demonstrate the difference by postulating that what the world experiences is happiness , not joy because while happiness is circumstantial , joy does not depend on circumstances. The worldly man without Christ is happy when the circumstances in his life are favourable. When he does not have money , for instance, he is very unhappy and grouchy. On the contrary , Christian joy is not dependent on any circumstances. The joy of the Lord springs out from our innermost being always, whatever our circumstances. Merely being assured in your Spirit that you have been redeemed not by your own works but by the Blood of Jesus Christ infills the christian spirit with joy whole day. In Acts 13, despite the rough treatment that the Apostle Paul and Barnabas endured in Pisidian Antioch where they were rejected by that people and had brushed the dust off their feet and gone on to a place called Iconium, the Bible tells us that ”… the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 13:52).
Why should Christians rejoice always ? Christians should rejoice always because they have been washed clean and redeemed by the Blood of Jesus Christ. Let the world judge him as much as they want. The christian is not bothered because he has the assurance of the Holy Spirit dwelling in him that he has been redeemed by the Blood of Jesus Christ.In fact, any christian who wants to do well in the Lord must shut his ears to the world and keep his eyes on Jesus Christ. When he falls short , he comes to the throne of Grace and seeks forgiveness .He does not allow the world to set the tempo of his christian joy and christian life. What the worldly man needs to do is focus attention on his own salvation. At times we become so absorbed in the lives of others that we fail to look unto ourselves. We judge others but we fail to realize that not only are we not better but we are far, far worse off and unless we likewise repent and are saved, we will end up in the depth of Hell. That was why Christ warned that the prostitutes and the taxcollectors will enter Heaven before the hypocritical scribes and pharisees who spend all their time judging others but neglect to see that they too are saved .
The Book of Revelation highlights this problem : “Because you say, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and know not that you are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked “ ( Revelation 3: 17 ) .
A man is not acting wisely when he is more concerned about the sins of others in a judgemental manner but is unconcerned about his own sins in a self-righteous manner . This doe not refer to journalists engaged in their wordly occupation of highlighting the corruption in the society, but a man has crossed the line when he starts being judgemental of other people’s faiths and christian service. When a journalist exposes evil and corruption or condemns a politician, he is doing his job but when he dabbles into the politician’s christian or islamic life and begins to judge him self-righteously, he has turned from a journalist to a pharisee . When once we begin talking about other people’s faith and religious standing from a self-righteous perspective , we have become unwise because the tendency will be to take our eyes off our own very grave faults and cast attention on others whom we begins judging . While we have a right to highlight evil in society, we are warned by the Lord Jesus Christ not to judge others.
JUDGE NOT THAT YE BE NOT JUDGED : MATTHEW 7 : 1-5
1Judge not, that ye be not judged.
2For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
3And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
4Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
5Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.
Let it be known that he who spends his self-righteous time judging others is like the man in the parable of the pharisee and the publican told by Christ ( LUKE 18:9-14 ). Read and learn :
THE PARABLE OF THE PHARISEE AND THE PUBLICAN
9 And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:
10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
Many people will go to Hell because of this spirit. Taking your eyes off your own sins and getting absorbed with the sins of others is a sure way to go to Hell. This is because you will not realize you own nakedness and seek the salvation that comes from being born of the living Christ who is the only one who forgives sins, cleanses, gives a new spirit andfinishes your christian race. Everybody needs to be saved to enter the Kingdom of God.
The onus is on the true christian not to allow himself to be distracted or sidetracked by modern day pharisees. It is the work of the devil. Satan will do everything to stop the christian from preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He will bring his disciples tp preach counter-sermons on their websites each time the child of God preaches. They will attribute to the child of God characteristics that are completely alien to him but was this not the same that they did to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ ? But this should not dampen the spirit of the christians. These are the circumstances that christian joy laughs to scorn and overcomes . We have the assurance of our salvation through the Holy Spirit. Before you , the christian , was born and before the world was made , those who belong to Him were destined for an eternal inheritance and you are one of them. Romans 8 : 16 tells us that ” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God ” This is why we must always rejoice and not allow the things we see and hear to slow down our Christian race . The Spirit of God testifies with our spirit that we are the redeemed of Christ.
SEE PART 2 OF THIS SERMON NEXT WEEK