Study Blog

A Limited View of Joy

“I believe what God has in mind, and what the Bible really says, is that joy is a real emotion. God commands us to feel happy, feel joy, feel good. To feel the real emotions of joy. Not all the time, of course, not in every season or every moment-God is not interested in plastic Christians. But somehow, the good feeling of joy should be something that defines who we are. We should be people who live in this place of real, emotional joy. What God has in mind is not a redefinition of joy, but a redefinition of us“- Matthew Elliot

We, as Christians, tend to walk around pretty joyless. We are just “bearing our cross.” Each day we feel the weight of the world, the weight of our sins, and guilt of not getting it right. Along the way, we have started to believe that if we enjoy life then we have gotten this Christian thing all wrong. Or at least, that is how I felt.

Somehow our culture has narrowed the definition of joy. Webster’s Dictionary defines joy “as a feeling of great pleasure and happiness.” When you read that definition what do you think of? I think of a person bouncing around laughing all the time. For some reason, I associate joy with loud, with a loud expression of happiness. For the most part I am not a loud person so, I have in the past, have felt guilty for not being “joyful.” I have even tried to mimic this loudness of joy by being someone that God did not create me to be. All I am left with is the feeling of guilt for not being that bouncy joy.

I often times find myself meditating on the things I am not doing or need to be doing. I have recently added this narrow view of joy to my daily meditation.  A sneak peek into my mind on any given day: “The kids need to be reading their Bibles, you need to spend more time with them, exercise more, save more, give more, pray more, read more, fast more, be more, laugh more, spend more time with Mike, the kids are not going to turn out right because you don’t discipline them like so-and-so. You need to stop yelling and rushing. The house is not clean enough and you don’t cook enough and….you need to be more joyful..”

That will just kill your joy right there. I have spent my entire day feeling like I have gotten it all wrong and I am not enough. These feelings of inadequacy are preventing me from experiencing the fullness of God’s blessing and joy.

The Bible defines joy in a different way. The Greek dictionary defines joy as,” rejoicing, gladness, happiness.” The joy God has for us is much bigger than one single emotion. It is an array of emotions that incite action that include: dancing, shouting, rejoicing, laughing, being still, playing an instrument, celebration, encouraging, eating and drinking, forgiving, and blessing. These emotions are either in God’s response to His creation or our response to God.

Joy is much more than happiness, it’s an array of emotions. To embrace these expressions of joy, that God has for us, we need to shift our view from us to Him.

Col. 1:11-12 says, “May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience, with joy giving thanks to the father, who has enabled you to share in the Saints inheritance in the light.”

That’s good news!! God has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints. We can live  in that victorious truth right now! God has qualified me!

1 Peter 1:18-19 says, “for you know that your redeemed from your empty way of life inherited from the fathers, not with perishable things like silver or gold, the precious blood of Christ, like that of the lamb without defeat or blemish.”

If you walk in the revelation of the blood you will not walk in defeat! I am now free to be me, to express joy the way God created me to!

We don’t need to narrow in on us but on Him, on who we are in Him. The only way for us to walk in “complete joy” like John 15 talks about, is to shift our focus from us to Him. Instead, of mediating on all the things we are not doing, we need to focus on all the things He has done! The only way to walk in joy is to know who we are in Christ. We spend so much time focusing on who we are not that we miss the array of emotions that God has created for us. The work of Jesus is complete, lacking nothing, and so are we. If we think any less of ourselves, then we are criticizing the character of who God is. God rejoices over all he has made, shouldn’t we?

So today, what do you choose to meditate on? All that you’re not or all that He is?

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