Joyful. Happy. Blessed. Content. Satisfied. Glad. Delighted. Pleased. Cheerful. All of these words occur on the joy spectrum. We think of some as outward expresssions and others as internal responses, but all are aspects of joy. All forms of joy are indicators that we are walking in far more life.
When our children were little, my husband and I taught them to obey the instructions they were given quickly, completely, and cheerfully. Their attitude was as important as their actions. Sometimes cheerfulness came easy for them; preschoolers LOVE helping with “big people” tasks. Other times were challenging; in some situation neither they or us were naturally cheerful! It was important to us that they learned to work and follow their leaders in life joyfully.
Joy, in all its various forms, is important to God, too. It is a recurring theme in His word:
…This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength. (Nehemiah 8:10, NIV)
I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. (Ecclesiastes 3:12, NIV)
Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. (Psalm 34:8, NIV)
But godliness with contentment is great gain. (I Timothy 6:6, NIV)
After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied…(Isaiah 53:11, NIV)
But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful. (Psalm 68:3, NIV)
He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me. (2 Samuel 22:20, NIV)
And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. (Hebrews 13:16, NIV)
…God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:7, NIV)
But the angel said to them, Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. (Luke 2:10, NIV)
The last verse caught my attention this week. The angel could have prefaced the news of Jesus’ birth in many ways: it will give you hope; it will bring you peace; it will show you God’s love. But he focused on the GREAT JOY it would cause. The birth of most babies is a cause of great joy for family and friends. The birth of Jesus, however, was a cause of great joy for ALL the people because it offers far more life. The angel continues:
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. (Luke 2:11, NIV)
There are several reasons the birth of Jesus brings us great joy:
We have great joy — and far more life — because Jesus is our Savior. He rescued us from the penalty of our sin, which is separation from God now and forever.
…Our Savior, Christ Jesus…has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. (2 Timothy 1:10, NIV)
We have great joy — and far more life — because Jesus is the Messiah. He is a descendant of King David who will establish an eternal kingdom:
But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:31, NIV)
…The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 11:15, NIV)
We have great joy — and far more life — because Jesus is Lord. He is our ultimate master and ruler…forever.
That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:10-11, NIV)
But why do these names — Savior, Messiah, and Lord — bring us great joy and far more life? Because they reset our perspective. They remind us to lift our eyes from the everyday struggles of this life and remember the bigger picture. Because of the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus we have the opportunity for far more life now and for all eternity. We have a Savior willing to rescue us from the consequences of our sin. We have a Messiah who will bring justice to the world. We have a Lord who will rule over His followers with goodness and righteousness for all eternity. Letting Jesus fill these roles in our life is indeed cause for great joy!
Great joy is not ignoring our problems, rather it is putting them in perspective. Whatever circumstances we face in this life, we can have far more life by choosing joy. We can choose joy because, through Jesus, our sins are forgiven, even when our circumstances tempt us to sin. We can choose joy because, through Jesus, justice and peace are coming, even though our circumstances are unjust. We can choose joy because, through Jesus, we will live in a perfect paradise forever, even though our current circumstances are far from perfect. Even Jesus chose to focus on His future joy when He faced the difficulty of crucifixion:
Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from beginning to end. He did not give up because of the cross! On the contrary, because of the joy that was waiting for him, he thought nothing of the disgrace of dying on the cross, and he is now seated at the right side of God’s throne. (Hebrews 12:1-2, GNT)
Whatever you face today, face it with great joy — and far more life — in Jesus!
What word on the “spectrum” best describes your joy?
How does reflecting on Jesus’ life and purpose bring you great joy?
What circumstances challenge your joy?
Thankfulness helps us maintain and restore our joy. Choose far more life — and experience great joy — by taking a few moments to thank God for His work in and around you.
Copyright 2019-20, Shari Damaso