The Choice of Joy
Joy is a fruit of the Spirit and the climate of God’s kingdom. So why don’t we experience more of it on a daily basis? Why do so many things seem to get us down? Because most of us are waiting to get joy rather than simply choosing to have it now.
It really is a choice. Take Paul, for example. If we read between the lines of his letter to the Philippians, we can see at least three opportunities in the first chapter alone for him to choose discouragement or despair:
- He was under house arrest in Rome and had been in confinement for several years.
- Other people were preaching his message from wrong motives and possibly distorting the truth.
- He was facing the possibility of death, pending a decision of Roman authorities on his case.
The Philippians were concerned about these things, and Paul could have validated their fears. But in each situation, he wrote about how things were working out so well.
- His arrest was giving opportunity to advance the gospel.
- Though others were preaching a less-than-perfect message with less-than-ideal motives, the name and the story of Jesus were still getting out there to people who had never heard of him.
- Whether Paul lived or died, things were looking good. It would be great for him if he died ("to die is gain"), and it would have been good for churches like the Philippians if he lived and continued to teach. Either way, he wins.
Joy is the climate of the kingdom. Paul wasn’t a victim of his circumstances, even though they were more extreme than many of us will ever face. He chose to live in joy. We can too.
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