The Source of Joy

November 5, 2008 at 8:14 pm (Articles, Attitudes, Godly Living) (, , , , , , , , )

Posted by Lauren

untitledI had a very brief conversation with a lady from church this week about joy. I shared how suffering for the sake of Christ, or even just suffering in general, can bring greater joy than in perhaps any other circumstances because we are stripped of all other things that bring us joy and we see the brilliance of the glory of God and prize it more fully in contrast to our destitute and miserable situation. She commented, not exactly in disagreement, but added that she thought the key to joy is contentment-so whether we’re in trials or in good times, whether we’re changing diapers or are rejoicing in our toddler’s first steps or other earthly blessings, we can have joy if we are content, satisfied with Christ and rejoicing in Him. And I would (mostly) agree.

But as I’ve meditated on this conversation and have spent quite a bit of joyous time singing to the Lord and praying to Him while folding clothes, it occurred to me that there is only one key to joy and it is not contentment.

The key to joy is Jesus Christ Himself. I know, I know…that’s the classic “Sunday School answer”, isn’t it? But it is so very true, and if we miss this, we will miss the focal point of all God-glorifying and soul-satisfying gladness! Consider this: We have the joy of our salvation in Him. We have the love of the Father and fellowship with our Creator in Him. We are made complete in Him. We have the promise of our inheritance in God’s eternal kingdom in Him. We have blessings in this life only by His grace. We suffer for His sake and are identified with Him in His sufferings as a gift of His grace. We have His Holy Spirit working in us to conform us to His image, according to His will. We will be with Him forever and will experience fullness of joy in His presence because of Him. We rejoice in hope because of the promises of God that are ours in Christ Jesus. Truly, apart from Him we can do nothing, and without Him we have nothing. We cannot have true joy if He is not the source of it!

No, the key to joy is not contentment. And suffering itself will not produce it in the believer, either. Prizing Jesus above all things is the key to joy-that your joy is wrapped up in Him and nothing else. And this is absolutely linked to contentment-if you truly hold Jesus as your greatest, even your only treasure, then you will be content! And your contentment in all things will be possible because of the strength which the Lord provides (Phil. 4:13). If you aren’t content, you’re probably not prizing Jesus most of all-you’ve perhaps forgotten how wonderful He is, or you’ve set your mind on earthly things, or you’ve stopped believing some of His promises (among which are “I will never leave you nor forsake you” “In Him you are complete” and “those who hope in Him will not be disappointed”). Either there’s something in the way or you’ve looked away.

And when it comes to running this race with endurance and the strength to lay aside the sin and other things that hinder us, we are told to fix our eyes on Jesus, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross. He is our example, He is our source, He is our joy. And in following Him, we endure trials “for the joy set before us”.

Many are “content” and many suffer who do not know real joy. True joy is a fruit of the Spirit. It is to rejoice in the Lord at all times, to know and value above all else the one true God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent. That is eternal life (John 17:3). And in Christ Jesus (in abiding in His love, hearing His word, obeying Him) is our joy made full, and it is in His presence that there is fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore! (John 15:11, Ps. 16:11)

Meditate on the verses I’ve referenced, and read the book of Philippians, focusing on the themes of joy, contentment, and suffering-and the infinite value of Christ Himself, with which no other thing can ever compare! Contentment with things or circumstances and endurance through suffering are bi-products of having joy in our great God and Savior Jesus Christ! What a beautiful thing that we don’t have to be tossed around by things that happen to us or around us! There is one source of joy for us, and it is our blessed Savior! Keep this in mind as it relates to this recent election, or whatever gloomy things you may be facing; and keep it in mind as it relates to the earthly blessings you have received-they are trash compared to Christ! And join me in praising God for His amazing grace!

Blessings!

laurens-sig1

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