Every one of us wants to be happy. We seek to find joy in life. The Apostle Paul writes a letter to the Philippians church from a jail cell and 16 times the word JOY appears. Once for a rotary fund raiser I spend a night in a county jail. It was brand new, never been used, but I want to tell you being in a jail cell is not a joyful experience!! I believe my accommodations were far superior to Paul’s cell, yet he is filled with joy.
Where does that joy come from for Paul? Well first and foremost Paul has found true joy in his relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Paul, a former Pharisee, had for years lived a life of obedience to the laws of God, but found no joy in that obedience. Instead when he discovers that God loved him so much that God sent his own Son, Jesus to live and die for Paul, his life is now filled with joy. For Paul this joy is not dependent upon the circumstances of life, but is found on Jesus Christ, who is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
Secondly, Paul reminds us that our response to God’s love, grace, and mercy should be joyful. The way we live our life is an opportunity to demonstrate to God and to our world our gratefulness for our salvation. That is to be a life of joy. Joy I believe is often most profoundly experienced in following the pattern of Jesus Christ.
That is a pattern of giving. Whether it is the giving of time, talent, or finances does not matter, the result is the same JOY. Something happens inside of us when we begin to respond to God’s grace by giving. We begin to see the connection between what Jesus has done for us and how God now is using us to change this world. Nothing else can bring more joy into our hearts than to be used by the Lord in his Kingdom.
You want to live a life filled with JOY, then live a life of giving, as Jesus said it better to gift than to receive!!
Yours in Christ,