Joy is and is not a choice

Philippians 4:4 is one of the least understood (not misunderstood) verses in the Bible. Most of us interpret it correctly, but fail to grasp the implications. The more we do, the more unreasonable it appears. We wrestle with a sense of failure because we’ve known joy, know it is attainable, but don’t see much of it in our lives. However, not having it is tantamount to disobedience. It’s a classic “do” in a list of “do” and “don’t”. Understanding it is simple. The correlating obedience-action is the tricky part. For example, the Bible says do love your neighbor, and don’t murder. Easy. We obey by simply flicking a behavioral switch on or off. We like those commands because they are rewarding. We can exercise immediate obedience. As long as I don’t murder, then I’m good. This is how Pharisees went wrong (Matthew 5:21). But rejoicing is different. We don’t have a joy switch. It takes time. On the one it grows when we rehearse the grace of God in our life. On the other hand it is something he gives us as a gift. It is impossible to manufacture true joy, so God made it a fruit of the Holy Spirit.

One thought on “Joy is and is not a choice

  1. Joy seems to be a product of a relationship with our unchanging God. Whereas happiness can be found in many changing circumstances. Happiness is lost when circumstances change for the worst but our joy is never lost because of what God has done. We lose our joy when we live outside of the pattern that God established for our good. He always wants us to experience joy. That fruit of the Spirit will be ours if we live a Spirit -controlled life. His joy will be present even when life’s circumstances are less than happy ones. My fluxuating joy is caused by my flegling attempts to run my life in my own strengths, limited as it may be. As you said Jon, I need to rehearse God’s grace to see His great involvement in my life, all apart from my meriting behavior.

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