6 Ways to Increase Your Joy TODAY!
We know Christians are supposed to be joyful people. And we realize that joy is a result of having the Spirit of God in us. . .that among all the people of the earth, Christians have the greatest reason to be full of joy. But, sometimes life steps in and robs us of the joy, doesn’t it? And, the effects impact our families and co-workers. We know we should feel more joy, but sometimes we just don’t. The question emerges: Is joy something I should just wait for? Will it just come upon me?
You are not alone. There seems to be a great absence of joy in the lives of many Christians and churches today. Of the several “fruit of the Spirit” (Gal. 5), joy at times seems to be the most elusive. Many feel reluctant to become overly expressive or enthusiastic about their faith. We are often not sure what lies at the root of our reticence.
Interestingly enough, the Bible never recommends that we “rejoice”, it commands us to do so (“I will say it again: Rejoice!” Phil. 4:4). When we first realized this, a few questions immediately came to mind for us How can I suddenly have the emotion of joy? According to the Bible, how can it be cultivated? In short, what can I do to work on my joy?
After plowing through some of these questions, I [Robert] made up my mind a few years ago that I wanted to be a joyful Christian, not periodically, but consistently. I wanted to be a person who regularly experiences the “fullness of joy” that Christ promised. Most of all, I wanted my experience and expression to be authentic, to be real, and hopefully contagious.
The pathway to joy, however, has not always been an easy one to navigate. It has become clear to me that God won’t force the expression of joy upon us. Much like a host throwing a party, who invites you to the event in full hopes that you will absolutely enjoy yourself, he provides all that is needed for a good time – the atmosphere, the food, the people – but your attitude and actions determine how much you enjoy the event.
In order to tap into the joy supply that Christ has secured for us, it will require some discipline. Joy is not only something felt within, it must be cultivated and practiced. Happiness is fleeting and random, but joy is nurtured and grown. Joyful people practice these Biblical habits regularly. The Bible makes it clear that certain disciplines in our daily routine will lead to a greater sense of joy.
1. Joy Celebrates!
Several years ago I was sitting in a routine church staff meeting when one of the staff members told us of a young man who had made a recent commitment to Christ at a small group. After a couple of token nods of heads around the room, the pastor proceeded to rebuke us: “Hey, guys! Did you hear what I just heard? Someone gave his heart to Christ this week. Now, c’mon, let’s hear it!” Then he broke out into clapping, shouting and whistling in celebration. The rest of us joined in. The point was well taken. After all, if the angels in heaven stop and rejoice (Luke 15:10), shouldn’t we? To this day, I have never forgotten that important lesson.
2. Joy Abides!
The best way to maintain an outlook of joy is by abiding in Christ, remaining close to the Lord day by day: “If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:10-11).
3. Joy Reads!
Reading the Scripture can be an incredible source of joy. I enjoy utilizing commentaries and study resources from time to time, but I have found the greatest joy in just sitting back and reading the Word of God. Allowing the mind and heart to get caught up in the truths, the biographies, the adventures, the insights and the promises contained in the Bible is a fountain every Christian should drink from frequently and regularly.
The Psalmist apparently tapped into this source of joy often: “The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart.” (Ps. 19:8a NLT) “I have rejoiced in your decrees as much as in riches.” (Ps. 119:14 NLT) “I rejoice in your word like one who finds a great treasure.” (Ps. 119:162 NLT)
4. Joy Sings!
Singing, whether in a church or in my car, is one of my favorite ways to stir up and release the joy of the Lord in my heart. When my mind fills with anxious thoughts, it does me a world of good to just begin to praise God and sing. Singing allows my soul to move its focus from the circumstances of life and to the character of God. It’s downright therapeutic.
Paul encouraged the Ephesian Christians to make music a habit in their lives: “. . .be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord. . .” (Eph. 5:18-19). Paul associated music with the consistent experience of being filled with the Spirit.
5. Joy Gives!
A generous spirit is a joyous spirit. Paul praised the Corinthians not only for their giving, but especially for their “cheerful” giving: “Now I want to tell you, dear friends, what God in his kindness has done for the churches in Macedonia. Though they have been going through much trouble and hard times, their wonderful joy and deep poverty have overflowed in rich generosity” (2 Cor. 8;1-2 NLT).
6. Joy Meditates!
Our joy is renewed by remembering God, by meditating on his goodness, by recalling his specific acts of faithfulness to us. The book of Psalms is, in effect, a record and a recounting of God’s goodness to people: “You satisfy me more than the richest of foods. I will praise you with songs of joy. I lie awake thinking of you, meditating on you through the night. I think how much you have helped me; I sing for joy in the shadow of your protecting wings.” (Ps. 63:5-7 NLT) Joy doesn’t forget. . .to remember.
Put some of these practices to work today and get your joy on! You will be glad you did … and so will those around you. Remember, it is a choice.
ROBERT and PAMELA CROSBY are the Co-founders of Teaming Life (teaminglife.com), investing their lives in men and women who desire to live as Teaming Couples, Teaming Families and equipping leaders to build strong Teams in the Church and Marketplace. Robert’s works include The Teaming Church: Ministry in the Age of Collaboration and The One Jesus Loves. Together they have written, The Will of a Man and the Way of a Woman, recently released.