That Your Joy May Be Full!
The goal of God for your life is that His joy may be in you, and that thereby your joy may be complete, perfect and whole. That would be the kind of joy that Paul knew when he looked back over his life, looked back at all his years of struggle, hardship, beatings, and tribulations of all kinds, and yet could say, "In all our affliction, I am overflowing with joy."
So great is the mercy and love of God that though we are egregious sinners, he offers us joy. This is the "deep truth" of the Christian faith.
Believer, here’s a prophecy for you: you will try to be good, to please God, to live in victory, to have peace with all men, to be noble-hearted and selfless, a light in the workplace, a source of joy to all who know you . . . and you will fail. Constantly. Miserably. You will try to think of others more highly than yourself, but you will fail. You will try NOT to think those sinful thoughts–you know the ones–but you will fail. All this failing will cause you to feel unworthy, dejected, purposeless, unlovely, condemned, guilty, hopeless, and just generally an ungrateful wretch.
Oh, but that’s not all. Other people, people around you, are similarly entangled. Some know it, and some don’t. Believer it or not, God would have them think more highly of you than of themselves, putting themselves last, but they’re either refusing, or they’re failing. Every one of them. All this causes trouble, disturbs peace, obliterates joy. It's a tangled mess, and it happens wherever people come together, in families, workplace, and even churches. Sometimes it gets so tangled, it reminds Jesus of a nest of squirming snakes.
Paul understood all this. The one who authored the great epistle of joy from a Roman prison, also said, "Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?" And his answer to that loaded question: "Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!"
Here’s the thing: God wants to fill you with his Spirit, the fruit of which is love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, and self-control. His will is that you would overflow with these things. Christ says to you, "I was, am, and shall always be your righteousness. Through me, you can disentangle yourself from the sin that so easily ensnares you, you can rise above, break free, run well, keep in step with the Spirit, and look back even on your pain and sorrow and count it all joy. Latch on to the grace of God. Know that it is pure and unalloyed, unstinting, intended to wash you utterly clean once and for all. Your sins are not ever going to be held against you, Believer. Your faith has made you well. There is now no condemnation for those who are in me. If you would only get this and get it good, your joy will be complete!”
So, knowing what we know–that is, who God is and what he has done for us–my question is, why should we hold back or sulk in a spirit of hopeless condemnation!
"Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against who the Lord will not count his sin." Romans 4:7-8
"Let us then draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 4:16
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race which is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:1-2