The world wants to be happy.
It’s just starting to warm up outside. Spring is in the air. You know what that means? The grass is growing! It’s just… the grass is greener in our neighbor’s yard, right?
Over the years, I’ve heard happiness used as an excuse for pretty much everything: “I’m just not happy, so I’m going to ____________.” Fill in that blank with divorce, leaving a church, walking away from friendships, etc.
The Scriptures never promise you happiness, but they do promise you joy.
What’s the difference between happiness and joy?
Happiness is circumstantial. It’s based on right now, and if you chase it your life will always be shifting as though it was built upon sand (Matthew 7:24-27).
Joy is eternal and the product of life lived following the Spirit of God (Galatians 5:22).
Many of us think about our happiness this way…
“I would finally be happy if I just had _____________.”
You fill in the blank. Perhaps you’d say “more money”, maybe it would be “a more caring husband”, or maybe “a better boss”.
Solomon was one of the richest men in all of human history. As King of Israel during one of it’s premier periods, he was both wealthy and powerful.
In Ecclesiastes 6:2, Solomon wrote: “God gives some people wealth, possessions and honor, so that they lack nothing their hearts desire, but God does not grant them the ability to enjoy them, and strangers enjoy them instead. This is meaningless, a grievous evil.”
That thing you think you need to be happy? That’s a lie.
You think you need that kind of husband to be joyous? Wrong.
Your life would be filled with joy if other people treated you the right way? Wrong.
More money in your bank account would surely mean more joy! Wrong.
For the last two weeks we’ve looked at moment in Scripture where John the Baptist is confronted with the growing ministry of Jesus. John has been very successful. His numbers have been great, but they’re shrinking.
His followers come to him with this complaint:
“Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan—the one you testified about—look, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.” (John 3:26 NIV)
John the Baptist responded this way, and there’s a key to living with JOY hidden in his response…
To this John replied, “A person can receive only what is given them from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him.’ The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less.” (John 3:27-30 NIV)
John frames life this way:
- You only have what God has given you.
- You’re not Jesus.
- The greatest Joy in life is Jesus.
- To fully embrace what God wants to give us through Jesus, we must empty ourselves of us.
So what’s the greatest enemy to your joy? You are!
As John saw Jesus emerging, he embraced the change because he knew he wasn’t the Messiah! His heart was full of joy even when he was second place, because he wasn’t full of himself and found His greatest joy in Jesus.
The one thing you can do RIGHT NOW to dramatically increase your joy is this: look into the mirror and say “Forget You”.
There’s no room for JOY if your life is full of you, because Jesus is joy!
How are you going to empty yourself so that you can more fully embrace Jesus today?