How We Get Joy Wrong
As I write this post I have to admit, I'm not a joyful person. I'm not sad and unhappy, but I've noticed I'm not really joyful either. I'm somewhere in the apathetic middle. Maybe (and by that I mean probably) some of you are like me. If you are, my hope and prayer is that this will help you as much as it did me. I've started re-reading John Piper's book When I Don't Desire God: How To Fight For Joy. I recently bought it on kindle because I couldn't find it on my book shelves. I wanted to re-read it because I've noticed lately that I've been more apathetic than joyful. I've probably been feeling it for a while and now I'm ready to deal with it. Even though I'm only a couple of chapters in, here's the big lesson I'm (re)learning:
The reason I'm not experiencing and expressing joy is because I've made "joy" the object I'm chasing instead of God.
Let me explain. I will never experience joy if that's all I'm looking for because I'm focused on the wrong thing. I'll only find joy as I look to experience more of God. He is the source of true joy. As I look to Him, I find all I need. That means I have to, " ... treasure him, desire him, [and] delight in him ...", above all else. (Quote taken from When I Don't Desire God: How To Fight For Joy - Chapter 2 - What is the Difference Between Desire and Delight kindle edition by John Piper ©2004 by Crossway.)
So often I look to other things; good things, God given things, to find happiness and joy. When I try to separate God from them I lose out on what I'm looking for. In doing so, I'm separating myself from my first love and putting something else in His place. I forget who I've become "in Him".
When I try to separate "joy" from "love" and "peace" I find none. They are inseparable. Lucky for me I know where to find them. Maybe a better way to say it is I know "who" they are found in. They are found in Christ! Why? Because it's only in Christ that these verses find truth and purpose:
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13 ESV)
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23 ESV)
If I'm not FIRST loving God in Christ, then faith and joy are impossible. If I'm not FIRST loving God in Christ then I'm probably not experiencing any other part of the fruit of the Spirit. It all goes together (no matter how hard I try to separate them).
Where is joy found? In Christ. Focus on Him. Focus on His life, His death, and His resurrection and what that secured for you and you find not only joy and peace; but the ability to experience patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Return and remember your first love!