“Today had always been more important than either yesterday, which could not be changed, or tomorrow, which he could only guess at.”
--Elmer Kelton (The Smiling Country)
“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full."
--John 15:11 (NKJV)
This world is evil, it is under the power of the devil. Yet we should traverse through this life with a smile on our face and joy in our heart.
What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life--
and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us--
what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.
These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.
--1 John 1:1-4 (NASB)
It is important that we see the world as it really is. Do not look at it with rose-colored glasses. The world, despite what leaders, philosophers, and teachers might say is evil and under the power of the wicked one. Do not be deceived by teaching that is contrary to this. Do not look at the surface. The politicians think that money is the answer to the issues of life--free tuition, free housing, free this and free that, when that will not take care of the problem of evil and sin.
We must not resign ourselves to the world! This is not the by and by, nor do we live by "let live and let die." A person who has resigned himself to the conditions of this world cannot be full of joy. "As Christians we have no right to be in a state of melancholy or unhappiness because the world is as it is." (Lloyd-Jones)
Perhaps it is because we do not understand "joy"; we often equate it with happiness and while happiness may be found in joy it in itself is not joy. William Barclay states, "Joy is the essence of Christianity... The ultimate note of the Christian message is joy." Joy is not flippancy; it is not something cheap. Joy does not necessarily bring laughter, but it does bring fulfillment. Joy is not superficial as happiness can be; it does not mean lightheartedness, nor is it a pleasant emotional feeling. "Joy is a state which is the result of the interaction of various forces and factors playing upon the soul." (Lloyd-Jones)
Even in prison, joy never escaped Paul. Jesus was a man "full of sorrows and acquainted with grief" yet was a man filled with joy. Joy is part of the Fruit of the Spirit; therefore, our view of joy must correspond the the life of Christ and the working of the Holy Spirit. Joy is often related to sacrifice (Hebrews 12:2).
Joy is the state of complete satisfaction--the soul is satisfied. David prayed that the joy of his salvation be restored. Joy is more positive and fulfilling than happiness. The "joy of the Lord is my strength," shows that joy presents the feeling of power and strength.
"When you are truly joyful, you are wound up by some mighty dynamic power; you feel strong, you are lifted up above yourself, you are ready to meet every enemy from every direction and quarter; you smile in the face of them all; you say, 'I defy them, they can never rob me of it.' The joy of the Lord is your strength; it is a strong power, a mighty robust thing."
--D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Remember that John wrote this epistle so that our joy may be complete. That is your joy and mine. "Joy, is the response and the reaction of the soul to a knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ." (Lloyd-Jones) That is vital as we live in this pagan, apostate, and foolish world.
William Barclay writes, "The simple fact is that if men are ever to find fellowship with one another and fellowship with God, and if they are ever to find true joy, they must find them in the Jesus Christ." He wants our joy to be full and to remain full. Despite the circumstances of life--our joy must remain full; joy is not variable it is a constant.