What is “joy” anyhow? The Webster’s Dictionary of 1828 has an incredible definition of joy. It reads: “The passion or emotion excited by the acquisition or expectation of good; that excitement of pleasurable feelings which is caused by success, good fortune, the gratification of desire or some good possessed, or by a rational prospect of possessing what we love or desire; gladness; exultation; exhilaration of spirits.”
The expectation of good and excitement…of possessing what we love or desire. That is the game-changer. Our hearts have to have a love and a desire for being like Christ. Then we view anything that helps us to chip away at our sin nature and take on His image as good and exciting!
I love the hope God has in us. It is crazy all things considered. I mean, we are dreadfully wretched and yet He still is the giver of joy to us. We get to expect that we can be like HIM!!! Knowing we need all the help we can get, He gave us the abundantly powerful Holy Spirit to help us along the way. It brings tears to my eyes. Romans 15:13 “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
It is easy to look at the awfulness all around us and that which fills the nooks and crannies of our lives. That is when my eyes roll. It is because my expectations of good are things here on earth rather than on being like Him. I get into my “I deserve” mode. You know what I mean? The “people are being a little inconsiderate of my feelings” or “nobody cares about me” type stuff. Yes, it does hurt my spirit when people are inconsiderate. If I want His joy; then I must turn my attention to being excited to develop a heart like His even in the midst of that situation.
Romans 15:1-6 completes the whole picture. I love it. Take time to devour it. I feel like it gives me the right perspective. If Christ came to not please Himself, that even His focus was on doing the Father’s will, then we should also desire God’s will in our lives.
“We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification. For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me.” For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
I can only begin to imagine the joy it would bring our Heavenly Father if we as brothers and sisters in Him would “consider it pure joy” as He puts us through those trials. And even more so if we helped and encouraged each other on this journey of producing perseverance though trials. What a picture of like-minded people learning, growing and edifying each other. How exciting it would be for us to experience that! That is joy; good and exciting!