Sunday, December 11, 2005

Oh for Joy!

At this time of the year, as presents begin to accumulate around the Christmas tree the joy of sweet expectation begins to rise in my heart. Maybe, this year I'll really get what I want. Sadly, though I am truly "blessed out of my socks," there is that post Christmas let down of not getting that one special item.

I know, I know, I'm a greedy little bugger! Confession made.

The problem is with my reasoning is that I am placing myself at the focal point. And that is not a good thing, I really do know that. I remember learning years ago that little acronym for "joy,"
Jesus first
Others next
Yourself last
It really is god to live by this little rule. In fact, when I do, I always seems to get what I desire, and that is seeing Jesus glorified. It is finding real joy the Jesus way. I remember the writer of the letter to the Hebrews stating that it was for the "joy set before Him," that Jesus endured the cross. It seems that even Jesus took the joy acronym to heart.

How does this talk about joy affect you? What "joy" lessons have you learned? Care to share?

May the true deep joy of the Advent season pentrate your heart.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

For the longest time, I never thought I could be a Christian because I wasn’t “good” enough or perfect enough. Then a very vocal Christian started working in the same office I was in. This lady had a bit of a temper. If she wasn’t pitching a fit, she was telling us about the fit she pitched the day before and how right she was to “give them a piece of her mind.” She was also in counseling in her church because of some of the problems in her home which were not at all lessened by the way she reacted to just about everything. I watched and listened to her growing as a Christian, facing some of the things she had to face about herself. She was figuring out that self-righteousness was not a fruit of the spirit.

Other people I worked with used to sneer behind her back and make comments like “and she calls herself a Christian?” But she had exactly the opposite effect upon me. I started to genuinely respect her.

It was just like a little light went on. I realized that one doesn’t have to be perfect to be a Christian, just willing to let God lead them and direct them and change them. This lady knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that she was a masterpiece in progress not completed yet. He was the vine and she was one of the branches.

My idea of someone who was following Christ before I met this lady was sheer perfection with never so much as a ruffled feather. Where others saw imperfection in this lady and wondered how she dared call herself a Christian, I saw growth and it didn’t matter how slow the growth seemed. Oddly enough, I had a poster on my wall at home that I had purchased because I liked the saying. The poster said, “Growth is the only evidence of life.”

Clearly, she was alive and I was dead and I knew that instinctively. I was self-centered. She was Christ-Centered, struggling with the flesh, but nevertheless committed to crucifying her flesh completely.

I often think that we should put more emphasis on receiving than giving at Christmas time. Because as we crucify our own flesh, and we are filled more and more with the Holy Spirit, we produce more fruit not because of who we are but because of who He is. The more we trust him, the more we rely upon him, the more the fruit of the Spirit is produced.

So underneath every Christmas tree, we all have the option of receiving the fruit of the spirit. which is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

The paradox is it cost us ourselves and that is something we have a hard time getting our minds around and why we leave finger marks figuratively speaking on of some of our desires for material possessions when we finally let go of them.