You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. – Psalm 16:11
Sometimes as Christians we like to make a distinction between happiness and joy, but joy has to do with happiness, delight, and pleasure. When we talk about the type of joy that God gives versus the happiness we find in temporal circumstances, objects, or relationships there is a vast difference, however. Only God is the source of true, lasting joy. In His presence, there is fullness of joy.
Joy is directly related to our affections. We find pleasure in what we love, and we love what we take pleasure in. God created us to enjoy Him, but our sinful hearts are endlessly pursuing feelings of happiness outside of Him. He has given us many good gifts to enjoy, and He delights in our joy in them. But, if we look to those gifts to produce joy or fulfill us, we will be left empty. We can only fully enjoy God’s gifts when we are enjoying Him most.
The law of diminishing returns comes into play when we think of joy. Think of a time when you anxiously awaited a special event, a meal, time with a friend, a purchase, or even a gift. Think about how your feelings of happiness might have changed only a short time after receiving that gift. There is almost always a, “Next time I’m going to…” associated with even the most joy-filled event here on earth. These temporal gifts were never meant to completely satisfy us.
Even more dangerous are harmful, sinful addictions that promise joy but leave us depleted, corrupted, and even more lacking than before. Sin is pleasurable…for a short amount of time. (Galatians 6:8; Hebrews 11:25) But, the end result is death, and the short-lived pleasure can’t compare to the deep abiding joy that God gives.
God is everlasting and endless in all His attributes. There is unended love, life, and joy in His presence that cannot be compared or contained. But, he will not be enjoyable to those who are still seeking life and love apart from Him. He repels the proud but gives grace to the humble. If you find God boring or unenjoyable, the fault is not with Him but with your misplaced desires. It means that you have not truly “tasted and seen that He is good.” It means that you don’t know Him, or are seeking joy apart from Him. It means that your affections or loves are placed in the wrong things.
When we love God first and most, we are able to enjoy Him no matter the circumstance. This is true because God Himself never changes, never leaves us, and His promises are sure. We can rejoice in the face of adversity because we are not seeking temporal pleasure, comfort, or control. We are seeking to be like Christ, our source of love, joy, and hope. We rejoice in what He is accomplishing in us through the trials He allows.
We can’t work up joy in God or a desire for Him of ourselves. Both love and joy are fruit of the Spirit, and they are produced in us through God’s Spirit as we yield to Him. Jesus tells us in John 15 how we can enjoy His sweet fruit in our lives. We simply need to abide in Him and allow His Word to abide in us. We let God transform our thinking through His Word, humbly walking in step with His Holy Spirit. (Galatians 5) It’s saying yes to Him and no to our flesh, and is a life-long process of growing closer to Him.
Eternal joy can be found in God alone. Have you rejoiced in His goodness today? Do you seek joy outside of Jesus Christ? What daily habits or thoughts tend to steal your joy?
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THANKSGIVING: Thank God for giving joy no matter the circumstances.
CONFESSION: Ask God to realign your affections so that you will seek joy in Christ through His Word. Ask God to restore the joy of your salvation and renew a right spirit within you.
FURTHER STUDY: Breathe God’s truth concerning true joy found in Him. Then, breathe out your response to Him based on what the Holy Spirit showed you.
Jeremiah 15:16; Hebrews 12:1-2; 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20; 1 Peter 4:12-13
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