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Erik Lutz, AiG–U.S., explains the source of joy and why it is so important to rejoice in all circumstances.
But the fruit of the Spirit is . . . joy. (Galatians 5:22)
Today’s big question: are you rejoicing?
When I meet someone for the first time, my mind takes a “snapshot” of that person without even realizing it. Part of this snapshot involves some characteristics like facial features, height, and clothing. However, the person’s general attitude and behavior affect my mental picture of them far more than any physical elements.
It doesn’t take long for a mental image to form—sometimes I only observe someone for a few seconds, but this is often plenty of time to determine his or her attitude. Granted, we should be very careful not to categorize people based on their mood because everyone experiences good and bad days. Still, you can usually tell a lot about a person by his or her demeanor.
For example, I was waiting in line at McDonalds a while ago, and a lady ahead of me was having a lot of trouble ordering. After standing there for several minutes, I wanted to get back to my errands. I’m sure my “please hurry up” attitude was evident, even though I attempted to be generous and patient.
Then, without fully realizing why, I started feeling better and not caring so much about the wait. What changed in me? The man directly in front of me had been waiting longer than I was, but the whole time he was cheerfully smiling, laughing, and trying to help the lady with her order. His joyful, positive attitude softened that potentially irritating ordeal and affected everyone around, including me. I soon found myself joking as well and asking the Lord to forgive my silly impatience.
When I reflected on the situation, I thanked God for the reminder of how a Christian ought to behave. We cannot truly know joy until we meet the source of all goodness—our wonderful Creator God. To know Him is joy, and His Spirit living in us naturally brings joy.
In his book Surprised by Joy, C.S. Lewis wrote, “The very nature of Joy makes nonsense of our common distinction between having and wanting.” Difficult circumstances lose their potency when we are rejoicing. What are you struggling with? The joy given by Christ can comfort you through any struggle. It doesn’t matter what trial you are going through; the joy of the Lord can be your strength (Nehemiah 8:10). Joy is a reality when you recognize who you are in Christ.
“Rejoice always” (1 Thessalonians 5:16). That’s an imperative—not just a good idea. No matter what, we can sing with David, “You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:5). Think about it: would someone categorize you as a joyful person? If not, why not?
Today’s big idea: rejoice!
What to pray: surrender your troubles to the Lord and ask Him to give you true joy.