Sunday, December 22, 2019

Joy for Every Season

The days and weeks approaching Christmas is a time of great activity associated with this holiday that tends to focus on giving and family – all good things, right? As Christians, we are also encouraged and reminded that this heavily secularized holiday has a much more significant meaning. We celebrate the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, his birth as a baby – God Almighty taking on human form as a vulnerable infant. Our God is nothing if not surprising in His way of accomplishing His purposes. Who could have imagined God taking upon Himself in Jesus the judgment for human sin, as the way to provide the means for people to be reconciled in relationship to Him? Amazing!
That we have a God that loves people that much (John 3:16) is a primary source for our thankfulness and worship of Him. We are thankful for what God has done for us and the world, and we worship God for who He is as a holy, good and loving Creator of all that is not Himself. Our expressions of thankfulness and worship are both spontaneous and intentional if we are striving to live our Christian life as God intends and calls us to.
Joy is a word that for me captures this spontaneous reaction and intentional action of thankfulness and worship. This time of year we especially sing about joy in our seasonal worship songs, songs like Joy to the World and Joyful, Joyful. But do we have a clear idea, a biblically-based understanding of what joy is and how joy is to be a part of our everyday existence as a Christ-follower? And what can I do to help myself live more joyously? 
Consulting a good biblical dictionary brings clarity that joy is “closely related to gladness and happiness, although joy is more a state of being than an emotion; a result of choice. Having joy is part of the experience of being a Christian.”
Scripture tells us that joy is a fruit of the spirit (Gal 5:22–23), which means our joy as Christians is not “natural”, but supernatural. It is a pervasive and firmly established sense of well being that transcends our circumstances, and instead is derived from and causes us to focus on the source of our joy – namely our relationship with God made possible by Christ’s birth, death and resurrection. Our joy is an appropriate response, intentional and spontaneous, to the life God has given us as he lives in us and leads us in paths of righteousness (Ps. 16:11, Ps. 23).
Further, as Christians, we should not only experience supernatural joy, but we are told by Jesus that joy should be pervasive in our lives (Jn. 15:11, 16:22, 17:13). Jesus predominate preaching and teaching was about the Kingdom of God being at hand or inaugurated with his coming, and Paul tells us "the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Rom 14:17).
I am learning that I can be intentional about cultivating joy in my life – that pervasive and firmly established sense of well being that transcends my circumstances. You can find what I have found here:
Rom. 12:2, Phil 4:8 and Col. 13:1-17. Meditating upon these truths can help every Christian have a
year-round life of increasing joy. 
Doug Wright

1. Heyink, B. (2016). Joy. The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

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