We don't experience joy the way the Bible describes it. In my first two posts on this subject (see below), I mentioned that not only do we not know where to truly find it, (in God and in His work of salvation) we don't stay there. For this final post I want to focus on how godly joy is expressed and why we don't do it.
How joy is expressed
Throughout the Old Testament (1st Samuel, 1st Chronicles, especially in the Psalms, Isaiah, and Jeremiah) joy is expressed through shouts and songs. We get excited about what God has done for us, and what He is doing in our communities and we can't help but shout it out ... or write songs to sing at the top of lungs! It's so amazing, and so wonderful, that if we don't let it out we feel like we will explode. This is natural and good for us, and those that hear.
So, if that's what the Bible says, is that your experience? For most of us, including myself, this is probably not the case. As I thought about this I had to ask myself the question why. Why don't I express the joy God has put within me this way?
Why we don't express joy
We don't express joy because of FEAR. We are afraid. This fear can manifest itself in many ways: - Fear of being labeled a "Jesus freak", "Bible thumper", "religious nut job", and the list can go on. - Fear of being rejected by those in our circle of friends who don't believe the same things we believe. - Fear of being different. In a culture that prizes individuality, we really don't want to be that different, do we? This list can probably go on, but I think you get the point.
What we fail to remember is that this is exactly what God created us for. We were created to bring glory to God and enjoy Him forever. We were created for worship! Shouting and singing are two of the easiest ways to worship our Creator and Savior. We don't need to fear it, we need to embrace it. We need to get worship going in our lives throughout the week and not just for our Sunday morning services. We shouldn't fear what the world thinks, we should fear God and think about what honors Him. Our expressing the joy God put in our hearts could draw our non-believing friends to Him, not push them farther away. This means being real, and not hiding who we really are. If I'm going to be labeled "different", let me be different like my Savior is different. Let me be different like my heart has been changed, made alive, different.
Fear is a powerful tool of the devil. Fear prevents us from doing what God wants us to do because we don't know the outcome. My question is, what else does God have to do to prove to you that He is trustworthy and faithful? He died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. He went a step farther and gave us a new heart that beats with heavenly passions. He has given us His Word to teach us all there is to know about life and godliness. He has given us His Spirit to be our powerful counselor in times of greatest need. And He has put that joy in our hearts to be shared with others for His glory and their good. Use it! Show it! Stop hiding it! SHOUT it out! SING as loud as you can!