No matter how strong we think our faith is, we all struggle with believing many of the things that Jesus tells us. One of these things has to do with the source of our joy.
We think we have it all figured out – that we know how life works best. When it comes to joy we especially believe that we know the best way to be joyful.
Many of us are under the illusion that if we could find the man of our dreams then joy will follow. If we could get our kids to stop fighting and be obedient, then our joy will be overflowing. If we could find good friends, a financially stable job, a solid church, an organized home, better sleep, alone time … then we will be joyful.
But Paul tells us something different. He says that joy is found in the Lord and not in the flesh. This is really hard truth. What he means is that you and I are wasting our time if we think the above things are the rainbow that leads to a pot of joy.
Real, deep, and lasting joy is found only in Jesus. Even Jesus told us this in John 15:11:
I have told you this so that my joy may be in you
and that your joy may be complete.
And because faith in Jesus is what our joy is rooted in, Paul tells us three times to “look out” – to be careful – because we are surrounded by false teachings and people who want to tear us down or lead us in a wrong direction. We need to protect our faith. We must guard it so that we aren’t led astray by false teachings. We make our faith strong by comparing everything to the Word of God and making sure that what we are believing is actually true.
Paul says it is a waste of time to put our confidence in anything but Jesus. Our nationality, talents, moral aptitude, or family cannot be relied on to give us the joy we need. Our money, health, knowledge, education, or friends also cannot be our main source of joy. Every earthly thing is temporal, which means so is the joy it promises.
But Jesus is eternal and what He can offer is also eternal.
When your faith is unswerving – when it is steadfast – then no matter what your circumstances are your joy can be overflowing.
If we substitute Jesus with anything else, then it won’t be possible for us to know the kind of joy that Paul talks about and Jesus holds out to us.
Looking To Jesus,
Week 3 Challenge: Make a list of all the people, things, and circumstances you find yourself relying on for joy. Think about what steals your joy. Next to each one write why it can’t deliver the real joy you are looking for. Find a couple of verses that tell you where real joy is found.
Week 3 Reading Plan:
Week 3 Memory Verse: