Sometimes I just don’t like to be told. I am very well aware of this tendency and no one has to deal with it more than my wonderful wife. Barb will ask me to do some little task and I need to confess to you, I don’t like it at times. Now, if I had done that very same task, at the very same time, in the very same way but without being told, I would just get after it. What is the deal with that?
I absolutely love my wife and I want to serve her. I am not expected to do an excessive number of chores around the house. I believe that I should do these things simply because Barb asked, and I can easily take out the garbage or vacuum or…whatever she needs me to do. With that being said, what is the deal with the little “control monster” that keeps popping up in my soul?
From my perspective, this is one of the most obvious ways that I see the extent of my sinful nature and my desire to live my life on my terms. It is here that I see the deep reality of my sinful nature. Can you relate to this at all? I can honestly say that I do like to serve and give, but I guess I also need to admit that even this is tainted by my tendency toward selfishness. I am very glad I have a Savior!
The reason I brought up this fault of mine is to deal with a common human problem that comes to light in our text for this Sunday. Paul is writing to the Philippians and he brings up the topic of being joyful in chapter four. I am confident that most of us believe joy is good thing. We want it all the time, don’t we? The answer that question may be: Well, yes I do want a lot of joy, but sometimes joy just doesn’t make sense and then there are other times I just flat out don’t feel like being joyful. Then along comes Paul, like Barb, and says, “Now, do it now, be joyful now!”
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
Give me a break Paul!
The Greek word for joy is deeply connected with grace. God has told us that joy is a spiritual fruit. That means it is a gift from God. Joy is a declared reality [not primarily a feeling] that has the power to show up in odd places – it actually has the power to show up in all places, at all times. But for me, it doesn’t always show up and Paul’s words seem to beat me up at times more than bless me. Why is that? It is because I am not the Savior. I need to be reminded that I only follow the Savior, and this is a spot where it can be very hard to follow. It is as simple as that.
Dear Lord of Joy,
I do believe it is a universal truth that Joy can triumph in every situation in my life. In the earthly life of Jesus, it always did triumph, even at the Cross. With me, I need to confess it isn’t always the case --- but I want the joy in my life to show up more and more like it perfectly did for Jesus. Almighty God, thank you for giving me grace along with joy. I believe Joy can always be present. Lord, forgive me where my unbelief or discontentment wells up and joy is absent. Empower your Joy to show up more and more in my life! AMEN!
Pastor Nick Mundis