“Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, Rejoice” (Philippians 4:4).
I am excited about joy. There is an old Christian song that has been song around campfires and various other settings with a variety of versions that goes, “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy, Down in my heart, Down in my heart, Down in my heart. I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy Down in my heart. Down in my heart to stay. And I’m so happy, so very happy, I’ve got the love of Jesus in my heart, and I’m so happy so very happy I’ve got the love of Jesus in my heart.”
While I sang the above verse as a Boy Scout, I grew older and found real-life circumstances that literally swept away that “happy feeling.” Perhaps you can identify with me when I say I have had days when my “joy meter” was waning toward the empty mark instead of the full mark. Many Christians are ashamed or afraid to admit that sometimes we just have “one of those days,” and more often that we care to admit, we have “one of those weeks.” We are no different than the great King David: “And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved” (1 Samuel 30:6).
I have matured and now understand that happiness is based on what happens to me, while joy is directly related to what is inside of me. It is possible to have joy even in difficult circumstances. Maybe Paul is saying to the Philippians church to experience joy in your heart even when unpleasant things are happening all around you. This is a basic Christian teaching, yet many of us simple do have the tools to experience that kind of joy.
Subsequently, I offer these three ideas to move your joy meter toward the full mark. First, learn to encourage yourself. When David was discouraged he spoke to himself. Ephesians 5:18-19 is clear; we are to speak to ourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord. Secondly, learn to have a grateful heart. Ephesians 5:20 reminds us to give thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. And finally, service to others always will pump up your joy meter.
I am often reminded of the words of Jesus in Matthew 25: “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
Scott is pastor of the Baconton Missionary Baptist Church and Vice-President of the United Ministerial Alliance.