WHERE IS IT, AND HOW TO GET IT?
Where is the ?joy of the Lord?? I know most Christians have read the scripture or had it read to them, ?The joy of the Lord is my strength? [Ne.8:10].
I have given thought to this subject many times, and remember quite vividly the joy of the Lord, when I was first saved.? I thought that it would go on forever ? but it didn?t.? After a while, I rationalized its departure – reasoning that it was not to be available all the time ? just occasionally.? Recently, I came across a verse from John:
?I have told you these things so that my joy may be in you and that it may be complete? [Jn.15:11].
I noted carefully what Jesus had said:? ?my joy,? his joy, not a person?s joy and that it ?may be complete.?? I thought this a bit odd, so I examined the KJV and the ?Received Text.?? The indefinite ?verbal auxiliary? was there stating this desire of Jesus, as his wish – which means it may not be so, but could happen.? I also noted that the joy was actually expressed as a completion ? not a partial thing.? This would mean an all or nothing situation.? One either has the joy of Christ or he doesn?t.? However, the whole desire is based upon, ?these things,? that were told the disciples.? It behooved me to find and understand what ?these things? were.
Going backward in the text, I found that this particular line of teaching started at Jn.13:1, where we read that Jesus was meeting in the ?Upper Room,? for Passover, with his disciples.? Jesus sends Judas on his way, and immediately wraps a towel around his self, and washes the disciple?s feet.? From Jn.13:12 on, the reader will encounter ?these things.?? They represent the fine print, for achieving the completed joy!
WHAT WE ARE TOLD
- We are to be servants to and for one another. [Jn.13:2-17; Jn.15:13]
- God has a place for us in Heaven that is being prepared by Jesus. [Jn.14:1-4]
- We will do the same works as Christ. [Jn.14:12; 15:4]
- We can ask what we desire and it will be done for us. [Jn.14:13-14; 15:7]
- We will receive a counselor to be with us ? the Holy Spirit. [Jn.14:15-18]
- The Counselor will teach us and remind us of the things Jesus taught. [Jn.14:26]
- If we obey his commands out of love, Jesus and his father will love us and abide with us. [Jn.14:23]
Counting, we come up with seven fundamental items told to the disciples and are meant for us as well.? ?These things? are expected to yield joy in us.? But how do ?these things? – believing them and acting upon them – bring about the completed joy?
Let us look at the target scripture again.
When we first read verse Jn.15:11, a surface reading or understanding would be, ?The things I have told you will bring you joy? – but the scripture does not mean that.
Note: Christ has used two adjectives: ?my? and ?your? with the noun, ?joy.? ? It can be read:? ?These things I have told you that my joy, in you, will be complete, so that you will experience it.?
- It is Christ?s joy that is to be found in us.? Better yet ? that he may find joy in the creature he has made, equipped and set to do his work.
- It was Christ, who out of love for his creation, died.? Now he will do more for those he loves:
- As a servant Christ washed the disciples feet ? our feet.? He did so as an example.? We are to go and do likewise.
- As a provider, he has made accommodations for our person and needs ? he builds a place for us in Heaven.
- As a manager he gives us work to accomplish in his name – the very works he has done ? preaching, teaching, healing and miracles.
- As a generous benefactor, Christ answers our desires for accomplishing his work.
- As a faithful friend, Christ provides us with his wisdom through the Counselor ? the Holy Spirit.? The counselor in us is, is with us to adjudicate our doings with the world ? to offer a proper legal explanation to those who would attack us.? Remember the work of the Holy Spirit is to: ?convict the world or sin, of righteousness and the judgment to come? [Jn.16:8].? Therefore, the Holy Spirit does so, through us, and by the words he gives us.? As the world rebuffs, demands an accounting and persecutes us, the Holy Spirit becomes our advocate.
- As our faithful parent-teacher, Christ will, through the Holy Spirit, bring to our mind, those things of God, which we heard or read with diligence.
Here now is your joy complete: by way of satisfaction ? Christ?s satisfaction!? Since he has bought us, he now equips us.? He will look to find satisfaction in his new creation.? If he finds satisfaction in his creation, ?HIS JOY IS FULL!? Since he lives in us, we share his satisfaction in our servant-hood, our work, and our purpose.? Therefore if we complete our tasks, Christ is satisfied ? his joy resounds, and we share [feel / sense] his joy.
Another way to understand Jn.15:11: If we complete our assigned work in Christ, to his satisfaction, we will share in his joy.
The point of this teaching is that joy is not a feeling of personal achievement, separate from the feelings of Christ or the Holy Spirit.? It is not that we do some act of charity in Christ?s name, and are satisfied in some measure of reward.? We can get satisfaction do the aforementioned but it is not the same as the joy of the Lord.? We do not receive the joy of Christ like one receives the satisfaction of a paycheck.
The joy of Christ in you is like a man who bought some land and built a fine house.? The man filled the house with furniture and gave it purpose.? If the man finds the house in all aspects suitable for his designed purpose, he is filled with joy at the home?s presence.? One can say that the house is a house of joy.
Hear what the parable means:? If we as Christians are the temple [home] of the Holy Spirit, we will be filled with the master?s joy, if we are complete in the works given us, and exist for his stated design and purpose.
Since we have been bought as a Bride, to be one with God, we can have no joy apart from the joy God finds in us.
But suppose we do many things in Christ, and though secure and generally satisfied, we find that we lack joy of Christ.? We say, ?I did his work, yet I have no joy!?? The evidence is clear ? a defining judgment ? that we have not yet given Christ his desired joy in our lives.? What should we do?
Reason dictates that we should take an accounting of our work by review from the beginning.? The beginning states that we are to be servants of our brothers and sisters first!? We are to wash their feet.? We should see if we had washed them as Christ washed us.? Have we quenched our mouths, and laid aside our rights.? Here in is dying to one?s self.? That we lay aside our free will to do the will of God.
If reviled, do we wash the feet of the reviler through patient endurance?? If falsely accused, do we wash our accuser?s feet by offering a gentle explanation in the hope that they will repent and understand the will of God?
The Apostle Paul taught us how to wash feet when he wrote:
?Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual, should restore him gently.? But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.? Carry one another?s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.?? [Gal.6:1]
The portion of our free will that is the most difficult to release is our personal dignity of sovereignty.? No one wants to be falsely accused, or misunderstood.? No one wishes to be become a doormat for another person?s selfish needs.? Yet, how will they know, how will they understand what Christ desires, unless someone goes, speaks and lives the life of Christ before them.? So it is written:
?How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news!?? [Is.52:7; Rom.10:14-15]
Those feet that bring the good news in peace and patience endurance, have already been washed by Christ himself. ? Shouldn?t that person go, and do likewise.
The flesh is weak, and so it reasons by way title and mammon. ? It looks for cause not to give up the love of God to others, by way of easily perceived wealth and station in life.? Christians have little difficulty yielding love to those who are weak, such as children, widows, orphans, the infirmed or aged. ? But if a brother or sister has station in life or wealth of mammon, we balk at giving up the washing of feet. ? We assume by natural concepts that those with wealth, or station have more than most, and so we let them come to their own senses, or at least feel some of our indignation at their selfish interruption into our lives.
Yet consider: who is wealthier in God?s eyes: a man that is rich in worldly wealth, or high managerial position, or a man that lacks money and position, yet knows God personally, and who has been blessed to understand a great amount of God?s will and word?? If you are mature and forthright, you will immediately choose the second party.
We assume that a title is all that defines a person?s responsibility to Christ.? Titles and mammon are direct and primary indicators of God?s expense poured into a servant.? It is God who grants wealth, and owns the cattle on a thousand hills. Yet these attributes are not the highest quality of expense.? Does a man have education, godly wisdom, discernment, insight, and ability to readily interpret the scriptures? ? Are not the gifts poured into him, of greater value than the ability to make money, or administer others?
An engineer builds a stainless steel wheel barrel with a solid polyurethane tire and elegantly painted lift bars and grips, and he builds a basic bucket-backhoe.? The item which he has spent the most time building is the item he expects more from.? Not every disciple is built with the same gifts and abilities.? Some disciples appear sharp and glitzy, while others are pragmatic in skill ? able to service many people?s needs.? Some have single purpose ? others multiple purposes. To the one endowed with much, much will be expected.
Has not James 2:5 told us that the poor of this world have been chosen by God to inherit eternal life?? To whom has God granted faith ? the rich or the poor?
We assume that a title is all that defines a person?s responsibility to Christ.? Titles with mammon are usually direct and primary indicators of Christ?s expense, poured into a steward, but they are not the highest quality of expense.? Does a man possess education, godly wisdom, discernment and incite ? perhaps ability to read and interpret the scriptures? ? Are not these gifts poured into this steward of higher value than the gifts of money and estate?
Revisiting the words, ?these things,? we find that Jesus vocalized them for encouraging us – so that he would find joy in our service to him, however, he restates his reason in the next chapter ? Jn.16:1.
?I tell you this [these things] so that you will not go astray? [Jn.16:1, NIV]
The New Century Version puts it this way?.
?I have told you these things to keep you from giving up.? [Jn.16:1, NCV]
It is God?s desire that he find joy in our service, and that his joy would be felt and received by us, but his reasons are far more involved.? It is the way of God that in his generosity, we complete the mission of service in Christ for our own eternal benefit.? He knows that when we act as servants, we will take a wide variety of insults, misuse, and abuse.? It is natural that we would feel worthless and let roll off our lips disparaging statements, such as: ?What the use.? None of my gifts are desired.?? Or, ?Why bother serving other?s, they never thank me or give the least credit of affection.?
It is the way of a ?Little Christ? [Christian], not to look for accolades from the world about us ? to include our Christian brothers or sisters.
??So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ?We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.??? [Lk.17:10]
We are not to expect large accommodations and right judgment of our value from the world or our fellow Christians, because what we do as servants of Christ, we do for Christ?s benefit, and other people?s benefit.? This is a hard saying, but it is our reasonable service.
?I beseech therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which you your reasonable service.??is [Rom.12:1]
As Christ recognized, our service, under patient endurance, can become a burden and cause us to give up.? Our focus then should not be upon the accolades found in the world, but upon what Jesus Christ has promised us ? ?these things? ? Christ is our generous benefactor; Christ has given us a special call and granted us special abilities; Christ will answer our prayerful needs; Christ allows us to do the very work he himself did; Christ gives us the Holy Spirit as our guide and counselor; and Christ has prepared a place for us in Heaven; Christ joy will become our joy when we continue toward completion of our assigned goals.? ?These things,? are to be our standards of hope, strength and joy.