An Inside Job

happy in his handsThe Bible speaks often about joy and how it is to be the mark of the Christian. So the question we must ask and answer is, “Am I marked by joy?”

This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Philippians 4:4

Be joyful always. 1 Thessalonians 5:15

The Bible makes it crystal clear that joy is the mark of the child of God. In fact, a joyless Christian is an OXYMORON. Now the reason we say that joy is an “inside job” is simply because it is not based on the circumstances of life. It is based on our right relationship to God. Here is a powerful example of this truth from the Old Testament.

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. Habakkuk 3:17-18

What we need to keep in view here is in an agricultural economy, this is what we could call a complete disaster. Yet in the middle of this mess, the prophet kept his eyes on God and did not let his circumstance rob him of his joy. Let’s take a look at another powerful example of this truth from the New Testament.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4

James is making it perfectly clear that there is purpose in our pain and that purpose is to grow us up into Christ. Clearly Christian joy is an “inside job” unrelated to what is going on around us because of Who we have within us…The Holy Spirit. Here is the best definition I have ever seen of joy.

J           =          JESUS

O         =          OTHERS

Y         =          YOU

You see, the Gospel changes the orientation of our hearts. Vertically it orients us toward God and horizontally it orients us toward others. When we are working from this kind of “other-orientation” the joy of the Lord which is our strength flows both to us and through us.

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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