As I consider the theme of joy this week I continue to find myself drawn to the idea that joy is one of those things in life that stirs up other good things, especially good things that inspire, encourage and bless others.
A simple example from my own life brings this idea to life. I am fully aware that when I have an overall joyful attitude I am far more willing and even desire to serve others than when I instead am focused on myself and my own needs. A joyful countenance helps me to be others focused to the point of noticing how I can meet a need or simply be a blessing to someone else.
I find myself on the lookout for ways that I can help my wife or kids or neighbor when I’m joyful. Whether it’s homework, a project around the house, cooking, cleaning, washing the dishes, sharing a resource…no matter how big or small it may be…a joyful attitude makes all the difference for me.
All throughout the story of God we see people blessing and serving others. In the New Testament, especially, the writers frequently encourage their readers to be fully engaged with giving of themselves in generous ways. Here’s one of those many examples:
“Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” – Hebrews 12:16 (NET)
This encouragement to do good and share what we have is obviously a way to serve others, but it’s also a simple way that we can bring a smile to God’s face and make Him happy. Living a life that pleases God always has the potential to bless others as well.
This next example is one of my favorite passages because of the description of just how contagious the joy of the Macedonian churches really is as well as the dedication they had, first to God, and then to Paul and his companions.
“Now, my brothers, we must tell you about the grace that God had given to the Macedonian churches. Somehow, in most difficult circumstances, their joy and the fact of being down to their last penny themselves, produced a magnificent concern for other people. I can guarantee that they were willing to give to the limit of their means, yes and beyond their means, without the slightest urging from me or anyone else. In fact they simply begged us to accept their gifts and so let them share the honors of supporting their brothers in Christ. Nor was their gift, as I must confess I had expected, a mere cash payment. Instead they made a complete dedication of themselves first to the Lord and then to us, as God’s appointed ministers.” – 2 Corinthians 8:1-5 (PHILLIPS)
I’m so glad that Paul included this in his letter to the church in Corinth, because we now have this as an excellent example of how the joy of the Lord can strengthen us to dedicate ourselves to those around us. One of the most amazing parts of this passage is often times overlooked. Near the beginning Paul mentions that the Macedonian church was walking through hard times themselves, but despite that, their joy was leading them to forfeit being selfish and focused on their own issues, and instead consider how they could freely give of themselves for the benefit of others.
May God continue to inspire us to put on joy so that as we remain attentive to sharing faith and life with others we can be a blessing.