God wants us to be joyful. It reflects His own character and it reflects well on Him when His people are full of joy. In John 15:11 Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full”. He is not talking here about happiness, which is more of an emotion dependant upon how you are feeling. Jesus is talking about true joy, which is deep and found only in God: “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures for evermore”. (Psalm 16:11).
Some Christians often appear so miserable and yet try to convince us that they are full of joy. I’m sorry but I for one am not convinced. I know that joy is a deep feeling but it is also a feeling that is hard to suppress. When you really know joy you can’t help but have a smile on your face. Jesus would have been a joyful person. I know He was called a ‘man of sorrows’ which is true, but this title mainly refers to His last traumatic week on earth. If Jesus had been sorrowful all the time, nobody would have wanted to spend any time with Him. This was clearly not the case as even the miserable Pharisees invited Him to dinner many times. Jesus was full of the joy of the Holy Spirit and it was infectious.
As I was preparing to write about this subject I listened to a really good sermon from one of my favourite preachers, Andrew Wilson, entitled ‘fight for joy’. Andrew makes a number of really helpful suggestions on how we can increase our joy:
(1) Make joy in God your first priority
The evangelist and preacher George Muller said “My first duty every morning is to get happy in God because until I am, I am no use to anybody”. Great advice indeed!
(2) Know yourself and make the joy of God a discipline
Find out what helps you connect with God and make a discipline of it. You may find it easier to read and pray at certain times of the day, by going for a walk and looking at creation or anything else that helps you personally connect with Him.
(3) Put Jesus before all other things in your life
(4) Give yourself to others
“If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.” (Isaiah 58:10). It’s amazing what a mutually beneficial discipline encouragement and service for others is. It’s one of God’s mysterious laws that as you give yourself to others, you receive so much more in return.
(5) Use electronic media wisely
On the internet nowadays you can pick up some amazing worship music and listen to great sermons that feed your soul, but on the flip side there are many unhelpful sites that will quickly rob you of joy. Wisdom is the key.
(6) Choose to spend time with people who increase your joy in God
There are some people who you can spend time with and then come away feeling encouraged, built up and strengthened. Make sure you spend enough time with them; there are others that can suck the joy right out of you!
(7) Get the relationship of body and soul the right way round
This is particularly true of British Christians. What I mean by this is: don’t just wait until you feel great to praise Him. Sometimes you need to say “bless the Lord O my soul”. It comes down to a decision of the will. The feelings will come later but we are not to rely on them.
(8) Read, meditate on and memorise scripture
(9) Fast occasionally
Jesus assumes we will fast (Matthew 6:17), but not at all out of a sense of duty as this would have the opposite effect, stealing our joy rather than increasing it.
(10) Speak positively
What we say has enormous power. Many of our problems in life are caused by listening to ourselves rather than talking to ourselves.
(11) Get baptised in the Holy Spirit again and again.
Being filled with the Holy Spirit is not a ‘one off’ event to help you when you start out your Christian life. We need the Holy Spirit’s power and anointing every day!
(12) Remind yourself of the weight of glory
“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18). Keep your eye on the prize! When we look to Jesus and trust Him our troubles never seem so bad. When we fix our eyes on what is to come, the things we struggle with now will be seen in a right perspective.
I hope you have found these points useful. If you have anything else to add, please feel free to make a comment in the box below. Let us be those who glorify God by being joyful and showing our complete devotion to Him. Share the joy!