A few weeks ago I wrote a post called Take Up Your Cross. I didn’t really cover that subject from all sides and wanted to elaborate on it.
The Lord graciously spoke to me recently when I was watching a DVD called, “The Blazing Center” by John Piper where he delivers a teen version of his “Christian Hedonism” theme (devoting yourself to finding your joy solely in God) from his famous book, Desiring God. (As a side note, I will mention that many things seem to be on sale at the Desiring God bookstore if you are interested in shopping.)
I was reminded that we are not only commanded to obey God, we are commanded to obey God with joy – or a right attitude. I demand this from my girls all the time. Our mantra is “obey right away, all the way, and with a joyful heart.” That is exactly what God wants of me as well.
Psalm 100:1,2 Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!
Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I will say, Rejoice.
Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Doesn’t it seem as though God is commanding us to be joyful and to delight in Him? It is just another command that we do not obey in our own strength, but with God’s grace helping us.
There is another aspect to joy. That is that we, as God’s children, are promised a heavenly or future reward. I think of how the author of Hebrew’s described Jesus:
Hebrews 12:1,2 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Jesus certainly had a hard road to walk during His incarnation. He endured it – in part – because He knew the joy that was before Him. The joy I think He looked forward to is partly what it says at the end of verse 2, “and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” He had joy knowing there was a reward. Of course, He also had joy that He was obeying His Father and giving Him glory – just as we should.
Do you think we shouldn’t be joyful knowing there is a reward at the end? The Bible says that Moses did.
Hebrews 11:24-26 By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharoah’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.
I guess I am trying to remind myself that although I may face trials and suffering in this life, the reward – not just in the future, but even the blessings God has for me now in my trial – are worth far more than any pleasure I might find in living my life for my own fleshly desires.
The most recent part of the Blazing Center DVD I watched talked about our vertical relationship with the Lord and that when we find our joy and contentment in that relationship it allows that joy to overflow out of our life – horizontally – into the lives of others. That is how the world sees Jesus’ love in us.
Now, isn’t that what the Christian life is REALLY about?