How joy-filled is your life right now?How would those closest to you answer this question on your behalf?Make no mistake, the joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10) and that joy has absolutely nothing to do with the circumstances we face in life.Joy is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) that empowers Christian believers to overcome the struggles and challenges of daily living. It is this joy that allows us to cheerfully keep our Lord’s command, “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear” (Matt 6:25).
The world’s understanding of happiness is wholly different; the world’s joy is dependent upon outward circumstances.When things are going well,the worldly man is happy; when things are going badly,he isunhappy.
But this is not for you!The joy every believer was redeemed by Christ’s precious blood to experience on a daily basis is based on priorities rooted in the word J.O.Y., as follows:
J = JESUS
O = OTHERS
Y = YOU
These are the priorities in life which will, whether we are fully conscious of it or not, determine our experience of joy in this life.Putting JESUS first in life, followed by OTHERS, followed by YOU, puts you in the center of the will of God that produces the joy of the Lord, which is our strength.
We all know this by way of personal experience, don’t we?When we put Jesus first, followed by others, we experience a feeling of joy that wells up from deep within us and overflows into every area of life.This is our divine design, and when we are living according to God’s design, we experience our strength—the joy of the Lord.
You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.(Psalm 16:11)
To be sure, true joy—lasting joy—can only be found in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ.God made us that way.We have a God-sized void inside of us that can only be filled by God if we are to experience the joy of the Lord which is our strength.Sure, we can try to fill it with other things.And we do in countless ways.Some use alcohol.Others use work.Still others the pleasures of this world.But God has designed it in such a way that nothing will fill that void and satisfy us at our deepest level other than Jesus.
With that truth firmly established, what follows is our next priority: our service to others.“Other” orientation is the second priority in experiencing the joy of the Lord which is our strength.Jesus makes this clear in both Word and deed.His life was rooted in OTHERS.
The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.(Mark 10:34)
Jesus came for others.Jesus lived and died for others.Jesus made it clear how His disciples will live when they are living for Him.If we are living our lives with Jesus on the throne, we will live for the good of others.We will model our Master and put others before ourselves. In doing so, we will experience the joy of the Lord, which is our strength.When we are following these two priorities in living cross-shaped lives (vertical with God and horizontal with others), the third priority naturally follows . . . YOU!
Jesus desires that we be filled with joy and He has given us the perfect prescription for making sure our cup overflows with it: JESUS . . . OTHERS . . . YOU!Now that’s a prescription that delivers on its promise every time.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!