Summary: "Book sermon" introducing The Letter to the Philippians and the study, "The Source of True Joy".
Title: The Source of Our Joy
Series: The Joy of the Christian Life (Sermon # 1)
Philippians Book Sermon
Date Preached: July 20, 2008
COPYRIGHT © Joe La Rue, 2008 (All Rights Reserved)
A. What is it that gives you joy? Think about that for a minute. What is it for you?
1. For many people, it’s their family. A recent study suggests that strong family ties is one of the key predictors for happiness for most people. In fact, strong family relationships have more to do with happiness for most people than even how much money they made.
(Salynn Boyles, For Happiness, Seek Family, Not Fortune, WebMD Health News (June 19, 2008), at http://www.webmd.com/balance/news/20080619/for-happiness-seek-family-not-fortune?src=RSS_PUBLIC (last visited July 15, 2008))..
2. There is no doubt: Our families are very important in terms of whether we are happy or not. Many of us derive much joy from interacting with our spouses and our children and our siblings and our parents. Certainly, for many people, feeling close to family makes it more likely that they will feel happy.
3. And yet, money seems to play into the equation for many people as well. The same survey that found that strong family ties are more important than money to most people for happiness also noted that ninety percent of people whose annual household income was at least $250,000 said that they were “very happy.” Only forty-two percent of those whose household incomes were less than $30,000 said the same. We may wish it were not so, since most of us are closer to the $30,000 level than the $250,000 level. We may even think that there is something wrong with deriving joy from money: it feels somewhat ungodly, doesn’t it? And yet the truth is, most people derive joy from being able to provide a nice living for their families, and they also derive joy from being able to have this possession or that possession.
4. For some, joy comes from their day-to-day activities. Maybe it’s a job, or an activity that they engage in. But whatever it is, what they do on a daily basis gives them a sense of joy.
a. I truly enjoy what I get to do in life. I enjoy being a lawyer and the type of law I practice. I also enjoy being a minister, and helping to lead and shepherd this church. I enjoy thinking deeply about our faith and writing sermons and teaching you each Sunday. I enjoy what I get to do. I think I have the best job in the world.
b. And there are some of you who would say the same thing. You do totally different things than I do. Perhaps you work in an office or in a school or in a hospital. Perhaps you spend your days under the sun landscaping or farming or working construction. Perhaps you stay home with your children and keep house. Perhaps you are retired, and you enjoy traveling or puttering in the garden or meeting other retirees each morning at the local coffee shop. But whatever you do, you love it! You cannot imagine doing anything else! It is like you were specially made to do the very things that you are doing, and those day-to-day activities bring you happiness, satisfaction, and joy.
B. There is nothing wrong with enjoying our family. Nor is there anything wrong with enjoying our activities, or our money and possessions. It is dangerous, however, to depend on these types of things to bring us joy. There is a significant difference between deriving joy from things, and depending on them for our joy. Our activities and our possessions are transient—they are not eternal. Even our families cannot be taken for granted. In an instant our loved ones could be taken, we could lose our jobs or activities, and we could suffer financial ruin. If these transient, unsure things are the source of our joy, rather than merely something that we enjoy, our joy is unsafe and insecure. We risk losing our joy when we tie it to transient things.
1. Now, of course if we were to lose our family, we would be heartbroken in our grief. If we were to lose the ability to engage in the activities we love, we would be sad and upset. And, if we were to lose all our money and possessions, we would be frightened and unsure of how we would make it.
2. However, even in the midst of the worst that life can throw at us, and even in the midst of our heartbreak and sadness and fear, it is still possible to experience joy, if the source of our joy is an eternal source instead of transient one. Our reality is that we live in an uncertain world filled with turmoil and adversity. We live in a world where we frequently experience setbacks, suffering, and sadness. We need a source of joy that transcends all of that. We crave a source of joy that will not go away. We all want to find something or someone that can keep us encouraged and joy-filled, even when life is hard and everything seems to be falling apart around us. We need an eternal source of joy.