Written by Tim Wood
In his letter on joy, Paul writes, “Whatever happens, my dear brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord. I never get tired of telling you these things, and I do it to safeguard your faith”(Philippians 3:1 NLT). And, “Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice” (4:4).
Clearly, it was Paul’s aim that Christ followers be characterized by joy. Not in our circumstances or belongings, but in a deep abiding joy in the Lord. Every day is an opportunity to rejoice in the Lord. So, don’t aim for happiness in your life, aim for joy. I saw this definition of joy and found it to be helpful. “Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.”
Here are a couple of ways to help you aim at joy in your life.
First, recognize that joy comes from within. Joy is not dependent upon the people in your life, or the possessions you accumulate, or what’s happening at this point in your life. God says you’ll find joy, when you trust that he’s in control and working to use the” good and the bad” of your life for a greater purpose. “Whatever happens, rejoice in the Lord.” The Lord offers me grace so I can live each day with grace. Grace means I don’t have to earn God’s approval. Grace means that God unconditionally loves me. Grace means that my mistakes don’t control me. Grace means that a relationship with God is based on His Son not rules and rituals. Allow God’s grace to work inside of you and the joy of the Lord will dominate your life…no matter what happens.
Second, stay focused on what’s really important. There are a lot of little things that can steal your joy but only if you let them. Jesus taught this: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be” (Matt. 6:19-21).
Happiness is overrated and joy is underestimated. Happiness will last for a while but the joy of the Lord is forever. What are you aiming for in your life? My prayer is that you won’t settle for happiness but you will aim for the joy of the Lord.
“This is the day the Lord has made; let us REJOICE and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24).