7/30/2012

Joy

This is a 'paper' that I wrote up a few months ago after a good friend and I had a conversation about how a Christian should strive to have a happy/joyful countenance . . . I had come to the conclusion that one of the things that might help my friend in overcoming the seemingly 'gloomy' demeanor that plagued her at times would be searching Scripture for what it means to have the 'joy' that Christians are so often exhorted to display..... and thus, my own look into this concept is what followed...



'Joy in the LORD' + 'Peace in the LORD'

 *v = verse(s)

Psalm 34, 121, Proverbs 3:1-12, John 14:27, Romans 5:1-5, Galatians 5:22-23, Ephesians 2(v* 13-14), 6:10-20, Philippians 4:4-9, Psalm 4(v 7), 21(v 6), 43(v 4-5), 66(v 1), Habakkuk 3:17-19, 1 Thessalonians 1, James 1(v 2-3), 1 Peter 1(v 8), Psalm 98, 1 Samuel 2:1-10, 1 Chronicles 16:8-36, Psalms 61-63, 113-119(v 118:24, v 119:162), Ecclesiastes 11:5-10, 12, Romans 12(v 12), 2 Corinthians 6:3-10(v 10).....

    In considering the subject of joy (which only bears true meaning in the context of 'the joy of the Lord' or - more accurately - 'joy in the Lord') I doubt anyone would not at some point consider the fruits of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23 (there are passages - namely Colossians 3:12 and Romans 5:1-5, and more I'm sure - that suggest the same pattern, at least in part).
    I find it interesting that joy is placed second in this list, especially considering that it can be argued that Paul started the list with the most important fruit . . . (see Matthew 22:37-40, 1 John 4:7-21, John 13:34-35 and 15:8-17, Matthew 5:43-48, 1 Corinthians 13, etc...) . . . Following the same line of reason, it is also interesting that peace comes third in the list.
    After noting this, I noticed that peace and joy often correspond to/with one another in several of the scriptures listed at the beginning of this paper: see Psalm 4:7-8, 21:6-7, 43:4-5, Habakkuk 3:17-19, Philippians 4:4-7, Romans 5:1-5, Proverbs 3:1-12, James 1:2-4, 1 Peter 1:8-9..... I'm sure you realize by not that I could go on for quite a few more lines - but I'll stop here and give you my thoughts on the verses already named...
    Now, I realize that Psalm 21:6-7 and Psalm 43:4-5 (along with several others) do not expressly state anything about peace, but please allow me to explain why I find the suggestion of it to be evident (and, hopefully, thereby indicate how I see it in the other verses mentioned).

    First, in Psalm 21, verse 6 obviously states how the king is glad: because the LORD's presence brings him joy . . . Though verse 8 would not stand very well for suggesting peace without the context of the entire psalm, how could the king not feel spiritual peace in God's presence, and physical peace (at least in part) when the LORD is 'swallowing up His enemies in His wrath?'
    Second, in Psalm 43, verse 4 has the psalmist praising God and calling Him his 'exceeding joy' . . . In verse 5 the psalmist is astonished (I think) that he could feel despair or disturbed in his soul, considering the first 4 verses of the psalm, and clearly calls for peace by placing all his hope upon God...

    Proverbs 3:1-12 obviously presents us with the opposite question: where is the joy in this Scripture?
    To that I would answer with another question: How could one who could be described by this passage not experience joy at all of these things? Let alone the joy he must have in his knowledge of and service to the Most High God! (which I would think is the case if he obeys the commands of the afore mentioned Scripture)...

    All of that said, wouldn't it be reasonable to follow the logic that if God grants His ever strengthening and hope giving peace to one of His elect, wouldn't He then grant them joy as well?... Or: how could one feel the unfathomable joy of the LORD, if God has not granted peace in his soul? (or vice versa)...
    Well, I suppose saying all of this has only served to point out the close affiliation of joy and peace (I'm sure the same would be found of all of the fruits of the Spirit - i.e. they would all develop with and build up one another)...
    So where do we go from here?

    Perhaps we can start by looking at some of the things that should give us joy just by considering them.
    Consider Luke 2:8-14 . . . Just the mere fact that God sent His Son to dwell among us in the flesh and start the process by which He would save us should fill us with joyous gratitude and praise every time we consider it(verse 10 and 14), let alone that He has changed us and now dwells with us through the Holy Spirit...
    May we never react in any way contrary to that of John the Baptist (or his mother, or Mary) when the LORD makes His presence known... Luke 1:39-56, Mathew 3:14, Hebrews 12:1-3...
    "...Do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength." ~Nehemiah 8:10(final half)  Although this is only the last half of the verse and it has been taken out of context, I believe it can stand alone in many instances...

    "But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you." ~Psalm 5:11

    With all of this talk of joy, I feel that I must acknowledge that this is not a constant euphoria that our mind, body, and soul is held in . . . I must even admit that the true sense of 'joy' that I try to convey will never be attained until all nations bow before the throne of God and praise Him in eternity...
    No, in this life Ecclesiastes all too often sums up life; especially for those who are not granted the overflowing mercies and grace of God (Ecc 3:1-8) . . . But those who have been saved should count those times as blessings, because those times of sorrow and trial will press them harder toward their Savior (James 1:2-3)...

    This is about where my 'thoughts' start to wander until I decided to just shut up ;P . . . so I would like to close with this:

    The holy, holy, holy God of the universe, our LORD and King, is the only true source of anything that would come close to 'purpose,' or 'fulfillment,' or any other kind of thing that people seek in this life. We were created to chase after Christ with every ounce of might that we are granted by the Father. Oh may we only find pleasure in knowing and pursuing not only the things of our God, but God Himself...

"Praise the Lord, all nations! Extol him, all peoples! For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord!" ~Psalm 117

2 comments:

Kate said...

AMEN. . . . Beautiful . . . .

Thank you ;)

~K

covnitkepr1 said...

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