Choose JOY!

Two people.  Similar life circumstances. One is joyful, happy. The other sad and depressed. 

The difference?  Attitude. One chooses joy. The other doesn’t.

A strikingly significant sign of our troubling times is the joylessness of so many people.

If you don’t believe me, I challenge you to look straight into the eyes of people you meet. What is obvious by its absence is the sparkle of joy. Very few people’s eyes dance with joy anymore. Nor many people walk with a joyful bounce in their step.  

Sadly, in our society, joyless people are the rule while joyful people are the exception. A genuinely joyful person sticks out in the crowd like a happy sore thumb (can a sore thumb be happy?). Not sure about that one!   

Lack of joy puts many people in their grave long before they are pronounced dead! Know anyone like this? I have seen far too many joyless people in my lifetime.

Oh, how our world needs joy! How can you and I be joyful in a joyless world?

In his book “Laugh Again”, author Charles Swindoll writes:

“I have discovered that a joyful countenance has nothing to do with one’s age or one’s occupation (or lack of it) or one’s geography or education or marital status or good looks or circumstances. Joy is a choice. It is a matter of attitude that stems from one’s confidence in God—that He is at work, that He is in full control, that He is in the midst of what ever has happened, is happening, and will happen. Either we fix our minds on that and determine to laugh again, or we wail and whine our way through life, complaining that we never got a fair shake. Laughing one’s way through life depends on nothing external. Regardless of how severely the winds of adversity may blow, we set our sails toward joy.”

Setting our life sails toward joy is setting our faith and confidence firmly in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The book of Philippians is a book about joy. I encourage you to study Philippians this week in detail. These 104 verses, penned by Paul from prison, are packed with joy and rejoicing! Thirteen times he uses the word joy, rejoice or rejoicing. During personal persecution and agonizing adversity, Paul intentionally set his sail toward joy.  Three life-altering observations about the attitude of joy and rejoicing that I am learning from Paul in Philippians.    

First, JOY is not based on CIRCUMSTANCES. If circumstances are responsible for joy, then Paul should have been horribly depressed! He was chained to a Roman guard, under house arrest, awaiting possible execution.  Few if any of Paul’s daily circumstances shouted joy. 

Paul rose above his difficult situation by rejoicing in the Lord. His joy was internal, not external. Rejoicing flowed from the inside (his heart), not from the outside (his headquarters).

A Roman jail cell could not lock joy out of Paul’s heart.   

Second, JOY is a CHOICE. Life is about choice. Circumstances, good and bad, have a way of choosing us. But you and I choose our response to life’s twists and turns.  According to God’s Word, we can choose joy in all circumstances!

Paul did. Incarcerated, isolated, maltreated, misunderstood, tortured, forgotten, and nearing the end of earthly life, God’s apostle of grace rejoiced in the Lord.   

Joy doesn’t choose us. Joy must be chosen. To rejoice or not rejoice is up to me. Joy is my choice and my choice alone.  

Like Paul, if we want joy, we must choose joy. 

Third, JOY comes from JESUS CHRIST. The source of genuine joy is God.  The world apart from God knows nothing of real joy. In verse 4:4 Paul exhorts Christians to “Rejoice in the Lord; again, I will say rejoice.” Paul makes it crystal clear who to rejoice in (Jesus) and how often to rejoice in Him (always).

The one and only object of a Christian’s joy is Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus came and gave His life so that His joy would be made full in all who believe in Him (John 17:13). Nothing can steal His joy from our heart without our permission.

Rejoicing in all circumstances is a byproduct of knowing Jesus on a personal basis.

Bottom line: JESUS IN OUR JOY! He is risen from the dead and coming back one day soon to take His beloved bride the church home to be with Him in heaven for all eternity! Now that’s something worth being joyful about, isn’t it!

When is the last time you looked in the mirror and your eyes danced with joy? You had a joyful bounce in your step/ others noticed a joyful spirit in you?

If you are tired of being joyless, and desire to be joyful, begin right now by taking the following steps to a joyful attitude and a happier life. 

  1. Decide to be a joyful person.
  2. Choose joy in every circumstance.
  3. Refuse to allow anyone or anything to steal your joy.
  4. Rejoice in the Lord! ALWAYS!

No matter which way the winds of life are blowing, set your sail for JOY!

“The joy of the Lord is our strength.”
Nehemiah 8:10

“These things I have spoken to you, that My (Jesus Christ) joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.”
John 15:11

A Word For Your Week:
Today and everyday choose Jesus Christ and His joy.