In conclusion

Philippians 3:1
Listen to your preacher, but don’t believe her every time she says, “In conclusion.” Sometimes preachers are good at winding down a sermon. Sometimes they forget their place or get a little excited. 

The apostle Paul did that in the letter to the Philippian church. Of course, he didn’t write in chapter and verse. No one does. But Philippians 3:1 is about the midpoint of the letter. Paul still has half of what he wanted to say when he writes, “Finally, my brothers and sisters.” That sounds like his version of “in conclusion.” He’ll go on with a few warnings and exhortations for two full chapters.

Philippians 3:1, though, is perfect.

It brings together what Paul has said before and even what he addresses after. Throughout the letter, Paul has encouraged the Philippians to rejoice. Indeed, the letter to the Philippians has a rejoicing tone. Compare it to, say, Galatians and you’ll notice the difference.

I’m convinced joy is an important part of our faith and witness. 

Our faith tells us God loved each of us enough to send us Jesus. Think of that line from Amazing Grace: The Lord has promised good to me. If so, how can we not rejoice? 

Is it because you’re walking through a difficult season right now? It’s okay to acknowledge that. Pain is real. Difficulties don’t mean God has abandoned you or that you’ve been unfaithful. It’s called being alive. You can rejoice even if you’re not happy.

Or maybe it’s hard to rejoice because you’ve never experienced joy. You don’t know what it feels like. Well, that’s part of what we’re learning as followers of Jesus. The Holy Spirit brings healing to our souls. We aren’t merely saved to go to heaven. We learn to live with heaven in our heart today. That is the peace of God.

I pray you know such healing and faith.

And joy is contagious. The world has always been a hardened place. People have always needed the love of God. When the church lives out its faith in joyful ways, its message carries. There is a difference the love of God makes in our lives and in the world. When we show it, people notice. 

To be sure, to rejoice is more than putting on a happy smile. It’s an attitude of thanksgiving and devotion to the Lord. It blesses me when I know someone musters every bit of faith they have to rejoice. In those moments, their faith encourages mine.

In conclusion, things don’t have to be perfect to rejoice. God only has to be good. And you know what we say about that. 

Stay blessed…john

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John Fletcher

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