Everybody wants to be happy. It’s a fact. No one’s working hard to be sorrowful. We’re all striving (each in our own unique ways) for a smile that won’t fade, a story that ends with ‘happily ever after.’
Ironic, that when I think of happy people, I often forget to think of Christ. He was a serious guy for sure, saying some pretty shocking things and jumping into the thick of death and illness and destruction. So, often, I picture Him stoic and perhaps even scowling. I forget the shocking news that His whole life was directed toward JOY. His every move was truly, in the most real sense, headed in the direction of ‘Happily Ever After.’
It was for the JOY set before Him that He endured the Cross.
I can’t do all that Jesus did. And to be honest, who ever would want to? The cross and the suffering of separation from His Father is a burden only His shoulders could bear.
BUT, there are some things that Christ did NOT do…some activities and habits He seemed to avoid-and these days I’m asking God to keep from these as well-that I might taste the JOY Christ won for us.
Would you join me this week in avoiding these 3 burglars of JOY?
1Complain. I really think that complaining might be the new language of my generation. Cynical comments, frustrated sighs, and just general whining seem to fall out of everyone’s mouth these days. The weather deserves a complaint. Last night’s sleep? Great reason to whine. The list of chores??? 25 reasons to complain. Your husband’s work schedule, your children’s disobedience, we’re finding a way to complain about everything.
Crazy to think that the ONE who had EVERY reason to whine and complain and never did so. I mean, let’s face it. We haven’t (in our own ability) done any thing to deserve anything. And yet, the Creator of the Universe put Himself in a young girl’s body, subject himself to earthly parents, walk in the dirt and muck, and put up with people who hated, misunderstood, and eventually murdered Him.
We can’t just will ourselves to stop complaining. That’s a burden and a law. But, we can think of Christ. Think of what He suffered and think on the fact that He did it all with and for Joy. And perhaps that will close our mouths when we’re ready to complain about the cold or the clouds or the heat or the rain. Maybe the next time I’m about to speak a whining word or even release a burdened sigh, I will think of Christ who kept His mouth shut.
He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth. Isaiah 53:7
2Keep a List. 1 Corinthians says not to keep a record of wrongs. But, honestly, I’m the best at keeping a record of ‘rights.’ Things I’ve done, sacrifices I’ve made, chores I’ve shouldered. I can so easily find myself making a list and checking it twice, reminding myself how I deserve to be treated well or respected or honored or loved…because of all I’ve done.
These lists kill JOY. And Jesus, the One who’s list is infinitely long, seemed to forget it all as He ran toward JOY. Though He was God, He let Himself forget that fact for a while and was able to rejoice with and be shocked by the faith and good works of mere humans.
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness. Philippians 2:5-7
3Stay Busy. If complaining is the new language of our generation, busy-ness is the new job. I’m not sure what we’re all doing, but we sure are busy doing it. We’re so busy with errands and dates and meetings and parties and jobs. And if we’re not going somewhere, we’re talking or typing or texting or tweeting. There’s just no time for rest or interruptions or just enjoying the time.
Sweet Irony. Jesus had to save the world. Seriously. He came to save the world. And yet, He never seemed to be busy or frantic or to have His days all planned out to the hour. He stopped when the woman touched His cloak. He saw the little man in the tree and went to lunch at his home. He shook His finger at the disciples and welcomed the children to just sit and play with Him.
Unlike Christ, we do need paying jobs, ways to pay for food and clothing and shelter.But, let’s be honest. What are doing beyond what’s necessary? What’s making us frantic and stressed and exhausted? When was the last time I had an unexpected meal, took time to really encounter a stranger, or just sat and played? Perhaps I’m missing JOY because I’ve just left no space in my calendar for it to sneak in.
This week, with trust in grace, I’m praying to think of Christ’s joy and AVOID these 3 distractions from joy. Will you join me? What are the practices and ways of living that seem to steal your joy?
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