Joy To The World
“Always be joyful and always keep praying. Scatter joy. This is God’s will.” 1 Thes. 5:14
I keep a file in my desk of “Blog Ideas.” I’m forever running across things I think would make great blogs and people are always telling me, “I feel a blog coming!”
One notion I wrote down months ago was the difference between Joy and Happy.
Webster’s defines “joy” as a feeling of great pleasure and delight. “Happy” on the other hand is defined as a feeling or showing pleasure or contentment. So joy isn’t necessarily happiness; it’s more than happiness. Happiness is fleeting and temporary. Joy is a true sense of utter and permanent delight inside.
During the holidays we often hear the word joy. “Joy to the World.” “Echoing their joyous strains.” “Comfort and joy.” But what, exactly, does “joy” mean?
My church often hosts speakers of all kinds and I don’t often attend them, but for some reason one this past week drew me in. I read about and knew I had to go. The speaker was Sally Robb and she spoke about “Choosing Joy”
Sally spoke all about joy vs. happiness. She said happiness is attached to circumstances but joy isn’t. In short, when things go well you are happy. But, if you have true joy, you remain in that state even when things aren’t going well. How do you get there?
By allowing God to open you up to let Him move in you. She called people who have the grace to do this “shiny people.” You know the type: those you meet who just radiate sense of bliss and blessedness. God, I found out through Sally, wants us all to be like that.
In fact, she reminded us that St. Thomas Aquinas wrote that “our sin, given to Him, gives Him His greatest joy.” I loved Sally’s description of this when she talked about Jesus healing the leper. We all know the story, but, Sally asked, where did the leprosy go when it was removed from the man? Jesus took it, that’s where. The only way our sins really die are on the cross when Jesus takes them and He does so every single day!
Another analogy Sally used was that of a barren twig vs. a beautiful flowering poinsettia. She said we can chose to live in the barrenness of a twig thinking God turns away from us in disappointment for our sins, or we can choose to “bloom” knowing He says our actual names and forgives us unendingly. We can run towards love and away from sin or we can run away from love, which is what sin ultimately is.
Finally, Sally suggested we live each day knowing God loves us and is there for us each and every step of the way. Yes, there will be heartache and pain, but it’s all just the truth of our lives. It’s not our job to control every aspect of those lives, but to let Him free us of guilt and the pain that goes with it.
Whew! How awesome is that?!
“The joy of the Lord is our strength.” Nehemiah 8:10
That’s how truly joyful people live. Think about it. Don’t you find it difficult to offend a joyful person? Joyful people let insults role off them and there is forever a spring in their step. They are loving, kind, gentle, and unselfish. They are, quite frankly, a joy to be around.
In researching this blog I also ran across an acronym for JOY that I loved: “J” is for having Jesus first in your life, “O” is for placing Others second only to Him, and “Y” is for placing Yourself last. If we put Jesus first in our lives, joy is a natural byproduct that will empower us to really love others and love ourselves. Let’s not forget that Joy is also one of the Fruits of the Holy Spirit.
Perhaps “The Purpose Driven Life” author Ken Warren said it best when he wrote, “I thought joy meant feeling good all the time. That’s impossible! So here’s the definition I’ve come up with from studying Scripture:
“Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.”
Can I hear an Amen?!
“May the God of hope fill you with joy and peace in believing that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
So let’s go spread good tidings of joy this Christmas season and pray that joy will envelope the world.