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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Who Says Happiness Can't Be Bought? Part 2

A month ago I wrote a blog about generosity. I still have more to say on that.

Would you say you want more joy in your life? That you want to be refreshed? That you want something bubbling over within your soul? I say YES to all these!

In our family we have noticed frequently a lack of joy. There are whiners, complainers, contenders, nit-pickers, fit-throwers...to name a few, and they are not always the little ones. Adults pitch fits too. Like the other day when I dumped a jug of milk into my soon-to-become mashed potatoes. Only someone had filled the sugar-water-syrup jug with milk, not noticing the clear, sticky liquid inside. And when I dumped that into the mashed potatoes, a woeful, anguished regret swept over me and the frustration boiled over. If I were Timo I would have thrown myself on the floor screaming 'Nooooooooooooo!' Instead, I said, 'Nooooooooooooo! No, no, no, no!' with Priscilla watching from the side of the kitchen wondering what was wrong with me. I would say that qualified as a joyless moment.

So we have been praying that our home would be generally more joyful. I suppose it is a good thing to pray for this - and I don't want to belittle prayer for joy - I mean, I agreed to pray with the family because, well, I am attempting to be supportive of the spiritual endeavours of our family, even if it wouldn't be my first choice. You see, I would rather study joy in Scripture and see where it comes from. Praying for it is a good start, but not good enough.

But I am sometimes quite lazy about Bible study (*gasp*) and fail to do what I think should be done, so I give in and say, 'We'll just pray for more joy.' Which falls far short of what I shoot for.

Because what good is prayer if I am not willing to DO the things I am seeking to be done for me? In later reflecting on the mashed potato incident, I realized at that moment they had become an idol and that I had put more stock in perfect potatoes than in the joyful atmosphere of our home. And steal our joy it DID. I had been aiming to have a happy disposition when Sam walked in. Instead he found me in a pile in the recliner, fuming and trying to recover from the injustice of sugar in my potatoes. He took it well, but the burden fell on everyone else to allow me that time to recover and not allow it to ruin our evening.

So where am I going with this? We have sung the little tune: "This is my commandment that you love one another, that your joy may be full." hundreds of times over. In fact, it is so familiar to me, I almost missed the last line: 'that your JOY may be FULL.' If we look at these thoughts in context we find that this is a condensed version of John 15:9-17.

How to have Joy:
Love one another. What does loving one another look like? See 1 Corinthians 13 to start with, then Romans 12: 9-21. And what does loving others bring us? JOY. And yet it isn't as straightforward as that, because in context it is not OUR joy, but Jesus' joy in US that brings us a fullness of joy. So joy is directly linked to HIS joy in US.

At the price of effort, love, kindness, generosity and losing ourselves in giving of ourselves to others, joy can be bought. But it comes through Jesus whose joy is filled up in our lives of giving.

Proverbs 11:25
A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.

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