Be joyful always. (1 Thessalonians 5:16, NIV)
What is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus? First, that you should experience joy! “Be joyful always.”
Paul is writing to folks who had experienced persecution and knew there was more coming, people who were grieving the loss of loved ones, people experiencing all the stuff of life.
Paul says, “In all of this, remember that you are in Christ. There is a joy that is yours that can never be taken away. Be joyful always.” Paul is talking to people who have the Holy Spirit. You cannot do this without him. Paul is saying, “As a person in Christ, you can choose to rejoice in all that he is for you, and all that has done for you, and all that he still has in store for you.”
God has graciously laid hold of your life – he has chosen you (1:4). The gospel has come to you with power (1:5), transforming your life now and your future (1:9). You have endured great trials (3:2), and Satan has launched some fierce assaults against you (3:5). But through it all, God has caused you to stand firm (3:8). Your testimony is a means of God’s blessing to others (3:9).
Look back over your Christian life and see what God has done: God has been teaching you (4:9). He has placed you among other believers who can encourage and build you up (5:11). He has revealed to you the ultimate outcome of your life – to be with the Lord forever in the great company of his people, with ever increasing joy (4:17).
These things are true of you, so choose to rejoice in them – always! Christian joy flows from realizing our position in Christ – who you are in him, what he has done for you. Think about your position in Christ.