Joy to the Fullest
Ever had a moment of pure joy in your life? Maybe it came in accomplishing a work goal, or crossing the finish line first, or holding that grandbaby in your arms. Whatever the source of your joy, it was only for a moment and then it became just a memory. But, you can have more than just individual moments of joy. The Bible tells us how we can experience joy to the fullest.
So, what is the source of joy in your life? According to the Bible, we can base our joy on either the things of the world or on the things of God. To illustrate this, I give you King Solomon and the Apostle Paul, the first had everything from power to wealth yet called it all “vanity” while the other gave up a position of status be a poor traveling preacher yet was content in all things.
King Solomon was the most powerful, wealthiest, and wisest King that the nation of Israel has ever had. In his book, Ecclesiastes, King Solomon records all the worldly pleasures he pursued during his lifetime, which included women (he had 700 wives & 300 concubines); work (he oversaw the construction of the Temple and other building projects); gaining wealth (other nations would present gifts to Solomon for his favor); leisure & entertainment (he held elaborate parties with dignitaries from around the world) … yet these pursuits offered only fleeting pleasures, not lasting joy. In the end, Solomon’s wise advice is to live life in a way that gives honor to God by obeying His commandments (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).
The Apostle Paul was a Jewish Pharisee trained in their religious ways, yet when Paul had a personal encounter with Jesus Christ, he declared his faith in Christ and became one of the first to bring the Gospel message to those living in Europe and western Turkey. During his fourteen years of missionary work, Paul was shipwrecked three times, thrown into prison multiple times, received 39 stripes with a whip on five separate occasions, beaten with rods three times, and stoned and left for dead. Even while in prison, Paul writes a letter to the Philippian believers about how to live a life full of happiness, contentment, and joy. His secret to a joyful life was simple, keep your focus on godly things rather than your earthly struggles (Philippians 4:4-8).
One of my favorite chapters in all the Bible is John, chapter 15. It’s special because this is Jesus’ last conversation with his disciples before giving up his life on the cross. Here in this chapter, Jesus tells his disciples, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:9-11). God has given us a life to live, relationships to have, work, and leisure times to enjoy, but only Jesus is the source of true joy in our life. We can experience this joy when we abide (stay connected) to his love daily and when we obey the Bible (do life God’s way). Then and only then will we experience joy to the fullest.