The Dancing Puritan

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Joy is a Big Deal

Joy is a big deal. Why? Joy indicates that we know, trust, and look to the Lord. God gives good gifts of food, drink, work, and children. Life and all of its accompaniments are gifts from him. What are we to do about gifts? Gifts are to be received and enjoyed. When they are, the gift-giver is honored. God is honored when we receive his gifts and enjoy them as an expression of our faith in God, and our joy in him.

Think about it like this: Not to enjoy, money, sleep, marriage, food, drink, work, possessions, honor, and children is a "grievous evil." It is a sin. Joyless living dishonors the giver of life. Such a dishonoring life is a discontented life. The joyless person receives but is never satisfied. He says things such as,  "The sunset could have been more beautiful. The food could have been more seasoned. My job should be more interesting. My church should be more _________." The joyless person receives sunshine, rain, green beans, and the smile of a child, but he is never satisfied.

The godly person is just the opposite. He rejoices in the Lord and is constantly learning at the school of contentment. In fact, he is content when the cupboard is bare or the tank is full. He is content because he knows that God is good and that God delights to provide for his children.

If having joy is the key thing of this life, how can joy be tapped into? 

Look! We need to look to God as the kind, generous, lovely Caretaker of his people. We are not on a search for gifts, but for God and for joy. We are charged in Scripture to "find joy." 

Herein is an essential principle. If you look for joy in people or gifts then you will be sorely disappointed, dissatisfied, disillusioned, and depressed. Such a search is like trying to catch the wind. Why? God has built into everything incapacity to provide what only he can provide. 

Only God can provide joy. He has designed people, money, honor, and possessions with an inability to provide what we need. The reason is that we are to have no other gods before the one true God. Only God can satisfy because only God is supremely satisfying.  If we try to suck joy out of cars, boats, vacations, and grandchildren--we will come back with parched lips every time. Why? People and things are not designed to give joy. They are designed to be enjoyed. There is a not-so-subtle difference. 

Gifts are an expression of love from God. He is the one who delights to give good gifts to his children and who, in fact, gives his children the entire universe for their enjoyment. The universe is not given for their joy but for their enjoyment.

God wants us to seek him first, foremost, and only. As we seek him, he supplies our needs and more. The gifts reflect his love. We are to receive his gifts and glorify God.  Only God satisfies. We are to taste him, smell him, savor him, and learn what it means to enjoy him forever.

Do you see why the absence of joy in eating and drinking is such a big deal? It says that God cannot be trusted, that he is not good. That is a grievous evil. To delight in God by enjoying his gifts, indicates that we are committed to the highest good.

Reflections above are from Ecclesiastes, Philippians and other passages of Scripture.