When an acquaintance asks the standard question, "How are you?" our reply is "Great!" or "Excellent!" or "Wonderful!" rather than the usual "Fine." We have work that we enjoy. Our family is healthy and/or wealthy. We feel on top of the world. Our joy comes from the fact that life is good.
Sometimes we have joy in spite of our circumstances.
Life is not good. Economic downturn, financial struggles, illness, troubled (or ended) marriage, rebellious children, and so on... Even though these circumstances completely stink, we do our best to find joy somewhere. This kind of joy sounds like, "We may be out of work, but at least everyone is healthy."
True joy, though, is not found in our circumstances or in spite of our circumstances. True joy is found in Christ alone.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.It seems that Christ has given us a formula for joy:
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.
~ John 15:5-11 (emphasis mine)
1. Remain in Him (and His love). (vs. 5, 7, 9)
2. Let Him (and His Words) remain in us. (vs. 5, 7, 9, 10)
3. Bear fruit. (vs. 5, 8)
4. Give God glory. (vs. 8)
5. Keep His commands. (vs. 10)
6. Let His joy be in us. (vs. 11)
7. Our joy is complete. (vs. 11)
Call me crazy, but I don't see anything in here about our circumstances. Good or bad, they are beside the point. Our joy comes when we abide in Him.
What do you think about this kind of joy - complete joy? Have you ever experienced it? Have you had it and lost it?
For other posts in the Good Fruit series (which, I confess, is taking much longer than 10 weeks to get through), click right here.