Learning the Art of Joy
Sin separates us from God.
Sin requires us to take ownership.
These two statements are simple to let our minds grasp. Yes they are abrupt, yes they hurt … but sometimes the truth hurts.
When we live a life of sin, we cannot learn how to live a life of joy. It's nearly impossible!
Like I said in my first statement:
sin separates from God!
How can we be separated from God, live a sinful life, but yet live a life of joy? That's absolutely contradictory to the Word of God!
“The lost live a sinful but joyful life! So it's not impossible.”
What you see in the life of the lost, isn't joy … it's temporary happiness (or pleasure).
Let's look at the difference between happiness and joy, that way we can clear up any confusion before we go any further.
H A P P I N E S S is a blurred emotion and is temporary.
J O Y is an attitude of the heart.
So yes, the lost live a sinful yet “happy” life. But their happiness is much like the common fashion trends … in one minute and “so last season” the next. Their happiness revolves on pleasures and what they can get out of something for them. Their happiness is ME focused.
So again I say:
we cannot learn how to live a life of joy. It's nearly impossible!
So what's the secret? How can we learn the art of joy?
I'm going to be totally honest with y'all …
I'm just now learning this as well, so I'm sharing what God has shown me
To learn the art of joy, we first need to take ownership of our sin.
“What does it mean to take ownership of our sin?”
It means to have a repentant heart, and turn away from our sin. (Psalm 51)
It means to take the words of a children's Bible song to heart
The world behind me, the cross before me
It means to flee youthful lusts. (2 Timothy 2:22)
If you are a child of God whose rebelled, let me have a little heart to heart with you. From one rebellious child to another:
I have been where you are, and it's the worst place to be.
I've been at the point of thinking God has forgotten about you, and therefore taking things into my own hands.
I bare the scares on my heart because of the consequences I faced due to my rebellion to the will of God.
I know what you're feeling. I know what you're facing.
But let me tell you this, taking ownership of the sin (rebellion to God and His will is sin too, sweet one), will be the best decision you've ever made this year! Defeat the devil, crush him, remind him who won the battle 2,000 years ago. Submit to God, and resist the devil (James 4:7). Once you submit to God, take ownership of the sin, and turn away, you will feel the burden lift.
If you are lost, then let me have a heart to heart with you as well:
I was once where you are currently, and your current state doesn't get any better.
Heaven is real, and so is Hell.
Life is fleeting, and you aren't promised tomorrow.
If you were to die today and stand before Almighty God, and He were to ask you “why should I let you into Heaven?”, what would you tell Him?
Your eternity is not something to be put on the back burner, because like I said you aren't promised tomorrow.
God wants you to enter into His family (and so do I). God loves you so much that He sent His Son to die for you on the cross at Calvary, and rise again three days later.
The Bible says “now is the day of salvation!” (2 Corinthians 6:2)
Will you be able to say the same thing?
Okay, so now that our heart to heart is over, and we know what it means to take ownership of sin, let's focus our attention on perfecting joy.
Jesus gives us the answer to learning/perfecting joy in John 15:9-12 :
“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” (emphasis is mine)
What does it mean to abide in His love? It means to never depart from Him.
Abide is derived from the English word “abode” which is another word for dwelling place.
When we accept Him into our hearts, He abides within us, never leaving or forsaking us. Therefore, we are to do the same … we are to dwell in His presence, never leaving Him.
How do we keep His commandments?
We keep His commandments by walking out the two biggies (as our pastor likes to say):
love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength
love your neighbor as yourself
However, keeping His commandments doesn't stop there.
Love is a verb (as DC Talk states in their song), and not the ushy gushy feeling. We need to put love into action.
So how do we put love into action?
We put it into action by changing our old ways, and walking out the life God has called us to.
It's put into action by allowing the Holy Spirit to penetrate our hearts in areas of hidden and/or visible sin.
Putting love into action is different for every single person on this earth. It could be as simple as:
*changing the way you dress
*changing the way you speak
*hanging out with a different group of people
… this list could go on
Or it could be more challenging (yet beneficial) as:
*getting accountability because you struggle with lust/adultery
*deciding to quit drinking
*deciding to quit smoking
… this list could go on as well
So, in simple (and fewer words): we keep His commandments by putting on the “new man” (2 Corinthians 5:17) and by putting love into action.
“So that's it? That's the secret to joy?”
Yes, that's it … there you have it, the secret to joy.
I'm about to become a pessimist for a second (here goes … gulp)
It will not be easy! We will never reach our full potential of a joy-filled life, until we reach our life in Glory.
(okay … I survived. But if you don't mind, I'd like to switch over to my optimistic self again)
Yes it will be a constant battle between flesh and spirit, but it will be totally worth it. This is another way we are called to run the Race. Think of the rewards:
our joy will be made full. Full of who? Our Savior
we will be called His friend (John 15:15)
we will hear “well done good and faithful servant”
… and my absolute favorite …
we will discover contentment along the way.
Make joy the attitude of your heart and embark on learning the art of joy!