Joyfulness: A Central Trait in Christianity
Joyfulness should be one of the defining characteristics of a Christian’s life. Historically, the joyfulness of Christians, even in the most terrible circumstances, is what defined the lives of Jesus’ followers and made their faith attractive to outsiders. If it was possible for someone to be joyful in the middle of a situation that was joyless, then the source of joy had to bigger, better, and beyond what was currently happening. Deep inside every one of us is the desire to live above and beyond this life. Ecclesiastes 3.11 says that “[God] has put eternity into man’s heart…” We want to know that we are more than dirt, that we will be more than dust, and that what we do here will have consequences that last longer than tomorrow. The joy that we should in Christ Jesus is an indicator of how much we really believe the promises of the gospel. If we really believe, then we can really be joyful, no matter our circumstances.
Joyfulness Amid Trials
James, writing to people who were suffering severe persecution at the hands of Jewish non-believers, told them that their faith was more powerful than their circumstances. He reminded them that their messiah was powerful, more powerful even than death. If we believe this, then what is there left for the enemy to throw against us that can steal the joy we should have in Christ? James told the Christians in the first century to “count it all joy…when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness” (James 1.2-3).
Can we count it all joy when we enter into various trials? Can we count it all joy when we suffer daily for the faith that we have in Christ Jesus? Remember, James didn’t say that we should have some joy in the middle of these things, he said that we could have “all joy”; we should be able to look at what is happening to us, see the pain and suffering that Satan is trying to throw into our lives, and then rationally and logically conclude that joy will be the final result. Even when we fail to see the good that will come eventually, and trust God that it will (Romans 8.28 says that God is always able to bring about good things), we must understand that our suffering will produce in us the ability and the willingness to stand firm in the face of a frontal assault by the enemy. We have great joy in knowing that no matter what we’re suffering, at the very least – and this is the least – the weaknesses in our faith are being burned out by the fire of trial. The impurities in our relationship with God are being removed, our faith refined, and our hearts made strong by the tempering heat of trials.
Joyfulness is Right
No matter what situation we find ourselves in, there is always a reason to have joy. So why are there so many joyless Christians? Why do some people make it seem like Christianity is a burden rather than a blessing? Why do people complain about all of the things that we “don’t get to do” and why do people say things like “I have to go to church”? Perhaps we don’t understand joy like the Christians in the first century did, or perhaps we just tend to forget about how important it is to be joyful. If the Christians in the first century, in the face of such terrible persecution could “count it all joy”, then certainly we, too, living in the greatest nation ever to grace the face of the planet earth, can find reasons for joy in our lives. We could even go so far as to that if we aren’t joyful in our walk with Christ, then we’re doing it wrong.
Tomorrow we’ll look at a few passages that teach us about the joy we can and should have while serving God, our fellow man, and following Jesus back to the Father.
Father in heaven, please help us to see through the veil into the spiritual realities that surround us. Help us to see things as you see them, and to know things as you know them. Open our eyes, Lord, and help us to see the good we can do for you and the good you are doing for us in every situation. Amen.