As we near Christmas, we enter a season that is joyful for so many, but not necessarily for the right reasons. Our joy (as a people) seems to be found in the giving or receiving presents.
VeggieTales had a movie, The Toy That Saved Christmas, where the toy, a Buzzsaw Louie doll, was the desired toy for all the children in the town. The advertisers were pushing the kids to tell their parents that they needed one, “because that’s the true meaning of Christmas.”
Commercials today tell us of all the things we need. Things we should buy for our loved ones, or buy for ourselves. We deserve them. This is the year.
This year I have been deleting more and more emails of sales going on, as I know that I will see things that I either want, or that I want to get others. Although they may be great deals, they just get me to want more.
The striking thing is that these things that we are told will bring us joy, don’t. At least they don’t bring us lasting joy.
“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’”Luke 2:10-12 NIV
The joy that the angels speak of is the joy of Christ. It is the joy of freedom from the penalty of sin. It is the joy of adoption into God’s family. It is the joy that only comes when we surrender our lives, and give them to the One who died for us.
And when we look at joy in the Bible, it doesn’t support the prosperity gospel’s claim that God will provide you with the stuff that will make you happy. In fact, the joy that we read about, especially in the New Testament, often includes suffering.
Jesus had this to say about finding joy in suffering…
“Looking at his disciples, he said: ‘Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.’”Luke 6:20-23 NIV
We also find this in the New Testament:
“In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.”2 Cor 8:2 NIV
“You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.” 1 Thess 1:6 NIV
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”Jam 1:2-4 NIV
And our joy – joy that is found in Jesus – is complete joy.
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”John 15:9-11 NIV
And the joy of being in Christ is found in our obedience to Him. As we seek to love and obey Him, we draw closer to Him. This is where we find joy – in Him.
I wonder how many Christians have been robbed of His joy because they choose to “play” with sinful behavior that they know is wrong, being disobedient to Him.
If we want joy this Christmas, joy that is ours regardless of our circumstances, then we need to find it in Jesus. Our joy will be found when we seek to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. We will find that joy when we seek to love Him obediently and wholeheartedly.