There are all sorts of things that can give us joy - our favourite food, seeing a friend, conquering a physical challenge, or even just a good Dad joke! But when it comes to a life filled with joy, there's a bit more to it, so here's a list of 5 things you need to know about experiencing the fullness of joy or 'inexpressible' joy as it's described in the Bible (1 Peter 1:8).
1. You Can't Have Everything That Will Give You Joy
It seems kind of obvious to say, but it's an important thing to realise. If you fill your life with finding joy in making money, then that will cut into the amount of time you have for finding joy in relationships. If you want to maximise the joy to be found in eating donuts, then you probably won't get to enjoy a slim waistline. If you choose to find joy in lots of different experiences, you may not get to have the joy of being really good at one specific task. So we inevitably have to make decisions about what we will find joy in.
2. Most Experiences Give a Decreasing Return of Joy
Again, fairly obvious, but just because I enjoy something, it doesn't mean that I will find more joy in getting more of it. Though it might be enjoyable to eat one donut, by the time you get to your tenth in a sitting, I doubt you will be receiving the same joy. So there is a place for balance. But even trying to find the right balance can be stressful and joy zapping in its own way, as we get worried we're not getting it right. What is the way through to joy?
3. The Greatest Joy Is Found Through a Relationship With Jesus
This might sound a bit full-on, but it's actually a fairly well-tested conclusion. In the Old Testament, King Solomon, who had almost unlimited resources on his hands, gave the question a fair crack and documented his conclusions in the book of Ecclesiastes. He concluded, 'Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind' (Ecclesiastes 12:13). Joy was found in the right relationship with the Creator. And Paul in the New Testament found a very similar thing. He said that he considered every other source of joy:
'garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.' (Philippians 3:9)
Paul found in Christ Jesus, that he was rightly related to his Maker and in turn rightly related with his fellow man, and that there was no higher joy than this. Life, after all, is about relationships, the way to have a perfectly operating relationship is through Jesus Christ. He has died to bring forgiveness and allows us to stand with Him before Father God. What does this mean for how we live life?
4. Allow Your Priorities to Be Radically Re-evaluated For Joy
In Philippians, Paul describes part of his journey to Joy.
'I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.' (Philippians 3:8)
Paul learned to radically re-evaluate, even things that he had previously considered profitable to him. As he followed Christ Jesus, he had 'lost all things', literally, he had to suffer the loss of all things, but in the process, he'd come to appreciate that knowing Jesus through faith, was even better than the things he'd previously valued.
What would it look like to re-evaluate your priorities? Maybe there's something you so value that it's stopping you from following Christ in the first place. Maybe you're going through a season where you're having to let go of a good thing, to pursue the better thing of relationship with Jesus Christ.
5. Imagine Finding the Greatest Joy Possible
A relationship with Jesus might at times feel to you like it's intangible. Eating a donut is tangible. Finding joy in a relationship with Jesus is a little more complex. But then so are most things of real worth in life. You have to press in a little, spend some time, some blood/ sweat/ tears, to get the greater joy of a relationship. Can you imagine pressing in with Jesus and finding what the apostle Paul and so many Christians after him have found, that 'whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ' (Philippians 3:7).
About the Author
Jai Wright is a Christian Minister, who founded and leads MAKE Church in Mackay, Qld. He recently published the book, Life Plugged In: Connecting with the Source of Peace, Power and Purpose.
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