Our Choice: Happiness or Joy

This month, our meditation has been excerpted from the book entitled, Bound to Be Free compiled by Jan Pit. In the following short quotation from Menes Abdul Noor (Egyptian, a respected leader of the Christian Church in Cairo), there is fodder for reflection and perhaps application:

I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. (John 15:11)

The joy of the world is the result of what people get or achieve. When the getting and achievements end, this kind of joy ends. The joy stays as long as its source remains.

Not so with the joy of Christ. He abides in us and guarantees to us that He gives us not as the world gives us (John 14:27). What He gives is everlasting, guaranteed and full.

When we abide in Christ, we find the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). Of His fullness we all receive, and grace for grace (John 1:16). In Jesus the life was manifested, and we have seen and bear witness, and declare that Jesus is the eternal life who gives us fellowship with the Father and with Himself, that our joy may be full (1 John 1:1-4).

When we abide in Christ we love Him and keep His word. The Father loves us. The Father and the Son come to us and make their home with us (John 14:23). What a privilege and what a joy!

When we abide in Jesus He guarantees to us an eternal abode. He says, 'Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in Me. In My Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am' (John 14:1-3).

We have all the right to be joyful, because we abide in Christ. All His privileges become ours.

A moment of introspection: Happiness versus Joy? For the Christian, the difference is substantial and life-changing. Let's consider. Happiness is based on achievement or accomplishment, or passing acquirement of earthly purchase or reward. It is dependent on the situation at hand, short-lived, fickle. It is addictive (wanting more, as in the pursuit of happiness) and ultimately unsatisfying. The joy of Christ, on the other hand, survives setbacks, is based on the indwelling Christ (based on stimuli external to the present situation), is persistent, sometimes but wrongly is confused with happiness, aided by perspective and belief, is always available, and is everlasting.

Menes Abdul Noor makes the assertion that when we abide in Christ, we find the way; if we ask God to show us the way, He has promised to instruct us and teach us in the way we should go. God has revealed the Way, and the Way has revealed the only path to eternal life with God. Secondly, Mr. Abdul Noor asserts that when we abide in Christ, we find the truth. With the Psalmist, we might well say, "Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name." (Psalm 86:11) The apostle John tells us "For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." (John 1:17) And Jesus himself said "to the Jews who had believed him, 'If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.'" (John 8:31-32) This freedom is enough to give us joy, for the apostle Paul tells us that love "rejoices with the truth." (1 Corinthians 13:6b) Lastly, Menes puts forth that when we abide in Christ, we find the life. The book of Job says that in the Lord's hand "...is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind." (Job 12:10) The apostle John, told us of Jesus, that "In him was life, and the life was the light of men." (John 1:4) Jesus, himself said to Martha, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?" (John 11:25-26) We do believe this, don't we? Reason for joy! The apostle Paul offers further reason for joy: "I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." (Galatians 2:20) Christ lives in us as believers, committed to our LORD; and the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. (Chronicles 16:9a) Lastly, the apostle John wrote words to add to our joy as Christians (1 John 1:1-4).

In the book of Jeremiah, the remnant of Jewish believers pleaded with Jeremiah to ask God to show them the way (Jeremiah 42:2-3); we believers know that the way is not hidden (John 14:1-4) and we trust in the end goal of heaven. Abide in Christ, keeping (obeying) His word, deeply rooting yourself within the vine (John 15:4-11), "so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming." (1 John 2:28). John, the apostle, wrote encouragement in John 15:7 about abiding, and later in 1 John elaborated a bit: "As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him." (1 John 2:27) In the same passage, John spoke in other words, saying "See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father." (1 John 2:24) How do we know that we abide in Christ? Consider these words from the apostle John: "By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he In God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world." (1 John 4:13-17) Conversely, if we do not abide in Christ, consider these further words from the apostle John: "Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. (2 John 9)

Ours is the choice, as Christians: happiness or joy? Let us choose joy!

Then, abiding in Christ, obeying His word, knowing the Way, the Truth and the Life, serving Him gladly, we might join in the chorus of a popular children's Bible song, entitled "I've Got the Joy In My Heart":

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!

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