Joy – Day 5

As we conclude this week of gathering truths about the true fount of joy, I’d like to share with you the words of Richard Foster in his exploration of the classic Christian disciplines.  While we can be tempted sometimes to think of joy as an emotion which we must produce within ourselves – the opposite of grief, sadness or depression – Foster explains:

 In the spiritual life only one thing will produce genuine joy, and that is obedience.  The old hymn tells us that there is no other way to be happy in Jesus but to “trust and obey.”  The hymn writer received his inspiration from the Master himself, for Jesus tells us that there is no blessedness equal to the blessedness of obedience.  On one occasion a woman in the crowd shouted out to Jesus, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts that you sucked!”  Jesus responded, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”  (Luke 11:27, 28).  It is a more blessed thing to live in obedience than to have been the mother of the Messiah!
 Joy comes through obedience to Christ, and joy results from obedience to Christ.  Without obedience joy is hollow and artificial.

 To elicit genuine celebration, obedience must work itself into the ordinary fabric of our daily lives.  Without that our celebrating carries a hollow sound.  For example, some people live in such a way that it is impossible to have any kind of happiness in their home, but then they go to church and sing songs and pray “in the Spirit,” hoping that God will somehow give them an infusion of joy to make it through the day.  They are looking for some kind of heavenly transfusion that will bypass the misery of their daily lives and give them joy.  But God’s desire is to transform the misery, not bypass it.

 We need to understand that God does as times give us an infusion of joy even in our bitterness and hard-heartedness.  But that is the abnormal situation.  God’s normal means of bringing his joy is by redeeming and sanctifying the ordinary junctures of human life.  When the members of a family are filled with love and compassion and a spirit of service to one another, that family has reason to celebrate.

 There is something sad in people running from church to church trying to get an injection of “the joy of the Lord.”  Joy is not found in singing a particular kind of music or in getting with the right kind of group or even in exercising the charismatic gifts of the Spirit, good as all these may be.  Joy is found in obedience.  When the power that is in Jesus reaches into our work and play and redeems them, there will be joy where once there was mourning.  To overlook this is to miss the meaning of the Incarnation.  Richard J. Foster, Celebration of Discipline, “Celebration” pp.192-193, Harper Collins 1998.

1. As you prayerfully consider your week, where have you seen joy?

2. In what ways is God working joy into your character?

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