This year continues with a new version of “My Grace-Full Life,” and this month—we’re talking about “My Joy-Full Life.” In God’s Word, He repeatedly tells us to rejoice and be joyful. But first—let’s clarify what joy is and what joy is not.
To understand what true joy is—we have to go to the Bible. When the Bible speaks of joy, it’s a feeling of contentment and trust that is found only in Jesus Christ. The joy of the Bible is dependent on Whose we are, and it has nothing to do with our circumstances or situations. In fact, biblical joy is found despite our circumstances. Joy can be found in a grieving mother, because her faith is strong. Joy can be found in a struggling father, because he knows Who is faithful to equip him. Joy can be found in the overwhelmed student, who, because of Jesus—is strengthened to persevere.
What joy is not: Joy is not happiness. Happiness is external—it’s motivated by people, places, or things. It is always temporary.
When it comes to Biblical joy, we have a lot to learn from Paul and Barnabas. Acts 13:49-52 records their experience in building up the early church: “And the word of the Lord was being spread throughout all the region. But the Jews stirred up the devout and prominent women and the chief men of the city, raised up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. But they shook off the dust from their feet against them and came to Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.”
I don’t know about you—but having a group of people rise up against me to persecute me and kick me out of the community doesn’t exactly spell J-O-Y. Nonetheless, Paul and Barnabas persevered. Their joy wasn’t rooted in their circumstances, because they were filled with the Holy Spirit. When we are doing what God’s called us to do, no matter how challenging…no matter the obstacles…no matter the seeming lack of progress… there is joy in obedience. There is joy in the work we do for the Lord.
Perhaps you think this is unrelated to you. Few of us are called to be missionaries in the traditional sense of the word (as Paul and Barnabas were). But if we’ve accepted Jesus as our Savior, we ARE missionaries. Jesus says in Matthew 28:19, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit….” So, to whatever corner of the world—you are commanded to go and make disciples. It’s an amazing privilege! Paul and Barnabas’ example helps motivate us when we’re in a difficult work situation; things at home are tense; or other challenges arise.
Colossians 3:23 says, “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.” This verse is an instrumental verse for me. While it’s not my life verse, it is my professional verse. While I may not be a missionary, my work is a mission. It’s an opportunity to shine my light for Jesus to the world. And when I remember to do my work for the Lord—there is joy. Thankfully, I like my job on the whole, but even the more tedious tasks are joyful when they are done with the right attitude.
How can you embrace joy in the Lord in your life? What challenges and circumstances are you in that you may face with greater strength, knowing that your joy is found in Christ?
Verse of the Month: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Song of the Month: “Joy,” by For King and Country
Recommended Reading: Hidden Joy in a Dark Corner, by Wendy Blight; Defined, by Stephen and Alex Kendrick; The Spirit-Filled Life, by Charles Stanley; Paul: A Man of Grace and Grit, by Charles Swindoll