Summary: God's will for each of His children is that we live the joy sustained life.
In this passage, the apostle Paul clearly tells us some things that are God’s will for each of us in Christ Jesus. Since success in life could be defined as “Knowing the will of God and being in the center of it,” this passage is one that we should carefully meditate on and seek to apply if we are truly going to be successful in the short time we have in this life and beyond. So for the next few weeks, that’s what we are going to do. Today we begin with verse 16, where Paul tells us to “be joyful.” He tells us that the joy of the Lord is . . .
1. A powerful joy - it is always!
God would never give us a command that He by His power will not enable us to fulfill. Therefore, if He tells us to be joyful always, it is because, by His power, it is possible to be joyful always! It is because God can allow us to have a joy that can never be taken away from us by the circumstances of life that the Scripture tells us “the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).
“There was a dachshund once, so long he hadn’t any notion
How long it took to notify his tail of his emotion;
And so it happened, while his eyes were filled with woe and sadness,
His little tail went wagging on because of previous gladness.”
Yes, by the power of the God who calls us to be joyful, we can be joyful always! Which brings us to another related thought. The joy of the Lord is . . .
2. A possible joy - it is for all!
This joy sustained life is possible for all of God’s children! Let’s look to what Jesus had to say about joy in John 15:9-11, to see how it is possible for all of God's children to be joyful always.
A. The relationship that makes it possible - v. 9
This joy sustained life is possible because of our never changing love relationship with the Lord. It is a life that is Christ centered as opposed to circumstance centered.
People often confuse joy with happiness. Happiness is not a biblical word at all. It is derived from the root “to happen.” In other words, happiness is something that is dependant on what happens to us.
Happiness is based on external realities. Therefore, happiness is never something that is constant, because circumstances always change.
I heard a story about two old friends who bumped into one another on the street one day. One of them looked forlorn, almost on the verge of tears. His friend asked, “What has the world done to you, my old friend?”
The sad fellow said, “Let me tell you. Three weeks ago, an uncle died and left me forty thousand dollars.” “That’s a lot of money.”
“But, two weeks ago, a cousin I never even knew died, and left me eighty-five thousand free and clear.” “Sounds like you’ve been blessed . . .”
“You don’t understand!” he interrupted. “Last week my great-aunt passed away. I inherited almost a quarter of a million.”
Now he was really confused. “Then, why do you look so glum?” “This week... nothing!”
Unlike happiness, joy is not mine because of the perfection of the circumstances around me, but because of the presence of Christ within me. It is not based on external realities, but on an internal and eternal reality! Happiness depends on happenings, while joy depends on Jesus! Since circumstances constantly change, but Christ never changes, I can be joyful always!
B. The road that makes it possible - v. 10
Jesus tells us that He loves us, even as the Father loves Him - in an everlasting way. Yet, if we are to experience joy as a result of this truth, we must “remain in His love.” How do we do this? Jesus tells us in verse 10. The road that leads to the joy sustained life is the road of obedient living.
As we walk in obedience to God's commands, we learn more and more that what John tells us in 1 John 5:3 is true, “His commands are not burdensome.” In fact, the more we obey God, the more we are assured of His love for us, as we constantly discover through obedience to His commands that His desire is not to burden us, but to bless us!
Joy is the by-product of obedience to God.
Max Lucado tells about a gentleman he met named Robert Reed. “His hands are twisted and his feet are useless. He can’t bathe himself. He can’t feed himself. He can’t brush his teeth, comb his hair, or put on his underwear. Strips of Velcro hold his shirts together. His speech drags like a worn out audiocassette. Robert has cerebral palsy.