It’s interesting to see how many times the idea of “joy” and or “rejoicing” appears in this short little letter. Nearly 20 times! To repeat something over and over like that might seem a little tedious to us. I’m sure that Paul 24 joy of the lordnot only wrote about the theme of joy but had preached about it often in Philippi as well as at every stop in his missionary travels. Grant Richison observes, “To go back and forth over the same truth again and again is to plot and slog slowly through detail. Most people consider this drab, dull and monotonous.” Yet to the Apostle Paul it was not dull, tedious and boring repetition. It was instead something he called “safe.” He says in Philippians 3:1, “Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you.” He never grows weary of telling us to focus on the Lord. He is our source of Joy and as long as we keep our eyes on Him we are safe!

It’s common to hear an older experienced man say something like this to a young upstart: “I’ve already forgotten more than you’ll ever know!” Although an exaggeration to be sure, there is some truth in the fact that forgetting begins the minute we hear something. It helps therefore to make a deliberate effort to repeat and review immediately. Repetition will help fix the fact or image in our minds. It seems that this is what Paul is interested in. He wanted his readers to hear about the joy we have in the Lord over and over again so that we won’t forget it. He wants to drive home the truth about the joy of the Christian life. A veteran pastor said, “When I first began to preach I was so afraid to repeat myself. Now I am afraid I won’t!” How much of a message do people understand? How much do they retain?

The Joy of the Lord is truly a safeguard for our lives. It develops in us the strength to stand against the onslaught of the enemy day after day. There is a frequently quoted passage from Nehemiah that rings true in this context. You might know it. Nehemiah 8:10 says, “The Joy of the Lord is your Strength.” We often sing about the joy of the Lord. There is safety to be found for you and me in the joy of the Lord. It’s like divine armor or a protective wall around us from the bitterness that surrounds us as we walk together through the valley of the shadow of death. If we can learn to live in the joy of the Lord we’ll have a natural resistance to attacks that often take others down. The true taste of the joy of the Lord makes the tempters offerings bland by comparison. Paul repeats himself frequently. He continually urges us to rejoice in the Lord. Rejoicing will serve as a safeguard through all of life.