Monday, March 9, 2015

What is the source of my joy?

What is the source of my joy? This has been a thought that has been on my mind a lot recently. I have been reading the book "Desiring God" by John Piper with my girlfriend, and it's really gotten me thinking about this question. From what things do I get the most amount of joy?

Wrongly, I so often derive joy from things that are unpredictable and unstable, and thus I live life with varying levels of contentment. Let me give an example...I think this is a very relevant example considering our culture...

I think about my social media usage. Why do I post what I do? Too often I post a beautiful picture, or a great quote because I really hope people will "like" it or comment to make me feel good about what I've done. I think even about this blog...sometimes I have to confess that I get very absorbed in how many people like or view my blog, because I get some satisfaction from the approval of man. When I do this, my joy is finding it's source in the approval of man...and as we know, men are fickle...and their approval of us comes and goes. To have our joy sourced in the approval of man is to have a very unstable foundation for our joy. The approval of man will not last forever, and ultimately we're left with disappointment and discouragement. This approval of man becomes an idol, and it promises great joy, but it does not deliver lasting joy.

There are really an unending number of things that can become the source of our joy that don't deliver lasting joy...alcohol and drugs (they promise great joy, but you have to keep going back to them to keep the joy coming)...food (I love food, and it's a good gift from God...but it can become an idol where we seek to find joy, but it does not deliver lasting joy)...video games (escape into this imaginary world and find my joy there)...the list could go on and on. Most of these aren't bad in and of themselves...but when they take over my life, and become the source of my joy...they cannot deliver lasting joy...and so they leave us feeling empty.

So, where does true lasting joy come from? Well, true lasting joy has to come from something that is changeless. Because all of these idols I spoke of that we seek to find joy in ultimately could not deliver because they are ever changing...they always leave us wanting more, but never totally filling us with lasting joy. There is almost this insatiable desire for joy that wells up in us...we seek after it desperately, and nothing in this world can deliver.

So true lasting joy must come from something that is changeless...but it also must come from something that is infinite. Because we have an infinite amount of desire for joy. So what is both infinite and changeless that can give us the true and lasting joy we seek? It's actually not a "what" but a "who." True and lasting joy can only be found in Yahweh, the God of the universe. Only He is both infinite and changeless...so only He can give us the joy we seek.

This is something I've been talking about with the people of my church...we can find our joy in so many things that will not deliver...but when our joy is in our infinite unchanging God, we will not be shaken. Because no matter our circumstances and what comes our way, we can find joy because our joy is sourced in God, who is always the same, no matter what is happening to us in our lives.

So, what is the source of your joy? It can be so easy to allow it to be sourced in passing things. It is a constant battle in the Christian life to work to rid ourselves of idols, and find our joy in God. God has given us so many good gifts to be enjoyed in this life...and I think we should enjoy them to the glory of God...but we can so easily let God's good gifts to us replace Him in our lives, and we have to fight against this tendency.

So how do we fight against this tendency to find joy in things outside of God? We need to meditate on truths about who God is, and build up our affections for God through this meditation. As we read His Word think about the truths we are reading, and what they tell us about who God is. Allow ourselves to be in awe of all that He is! Worship Him as a reaction to these truths we've read about Him! As we do this we will be filled with joy, and we will gradually want those idols less and less...we'll wonder why we ever ran after them in the first place when they never really delivered. Again, this is a constant battle in the life of the Christian...we will constantly be fighting against our tendency to run after other things...but by God's grace as we grow in Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit...we can get better and better at this.

Now, just some practical thoughts. I think we should check ourselves. Before we post that thing to social media...we can ask ourselves, "why am I posting this?" Am I posting it so that we can get the praise of man? Am I posting it to be a blessing to others? These are important questions we need to ask so that we can make sure that our joy is not being sourced in things outside of God...because anything/anyone besides Him, will not deliver what we seek.

I hope all that made sense. My thoughts on this are by no means exhaustive...they're just the thoughts I've had on this manner. Many very smart theologians have written books on this subject. I highly recommend "Desiring God" by John Piper. I'm not finished with it yet, but so far it has really helped formulate my beliefs on what I have written in this post.

And in closing...here's a song that kind of expresses this battle in the Christian life to find joy in things outside of God. The song is called "Sirens" and it's by the Gray Havens.


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