Thursday, April 25, 2013

WATCH OUT FOR JOY BUSTERS!

Before Paul wrote to the church at Galatia about the Fruit of the Spirit in chapter 5, he asked a very penetrating question in Galatians 4:15: “What has happened to all your joy…” That question needs to be asked in the church today. What has happened to all my joy? What has happened to all your joy? William Barclay has said that “a gloomy Christian is a contradiction in terms, and nothing in all religious history has done Christianity more harm than its connection with black clothes and long faces.” Let’s look at three common joy busters that steal joy from our lives.

The first joy buster is unsatisfied expectations! Do you ever feel like you’re just going through some joyless routines in life? If the truth were known some of us are discontent with the way our lives are progressing. It could be that your expectations for your marriage or your job have not been met. Or, maybe your kids aren’t living like they should. Perhaps you don’t have everything you want – a bigger house, a nicer car, and a better job. It might be that you have not accomplished much of your dreams and goals in life. I’m convinced that a spirit of discontentment can rob many of us of joy. Listen to how Paul discovered the secret of being content with what God had given him in Philippians 4:12: “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”

I find it interesting to note that Paul calls contentment a “secret.” There’s a mystery about it. He also had to “learn” how to live with unsatisfied expectations. Likewise, we must learn to live with plenty or with little. Someone has said it this way: “Contentment doesn’t come when we have everything we want but when we want everything we have."

The second joy buster is unresolved conflict. Our joy evaporates when we allow conflict between ourselves and another person to go on. When someone’s offense against us occupies our mental and emotional attention, we have little left over for the Lord. Anger clouds the eyes of our heart and obscures our view of God, draining away our joy. Hebrews 12:14-15 challenges us to not allow relational ruptures to fester because bitterness can set in: “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”


One of the principles we need to know about love is that no record or data base of wrongs. If you’re still itemizing people’s mess-ups, mistakes, and failures,  the fruit of joy will be squashed in your life. Paul recognizes the link between joy and unity in Philippians 2:2: “Then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.”

The final joy buster is unconfessed sin. This third joy buster is perhaps responsible for chasing more joy out of lives than any other. Guilt can gut your joy faster than anything I know. Sin can send joy far away. David understood this very well when he attempted to ignore the promptings of the Spirit. Take a look at Psalm 32:1-5: “Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit. When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD’ -- and you forgave the guilt of my sin.”


What happened next for David? Well scripture records that after David owns his sin, his joy returns. Notice verse 11: “Rejoice in the LORD and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart!” Did you catch that? He was not able to rejoice and experience the joy of the Lord until he confessed his sins! Today your are stealing your own joy with these “joy busters.” Joy is a choice! Choose joy today!