By Cindy Weaver
Christmas is a few short weeks away and we are being bombarded with the usual messages about this wonderful time of year. Is it just me or did Christmas decorations come out even earlier than usual? By mid-October Home Depot was selling trees, Sirius XM’s Hallmark channel started playing the ‘songs of the season’ by October 20th and, since my mom lives with us, we are getting Hallmark Christmas movies 24/7 that peddle perfectly picturesque holidays.
It struck me that perhaps that’s because the world is reaching for something that will ease the stress, relieve the burden of these strange days. The world is desperately searching for what we, as believers in Christ, know as JOY. Not the superficial, fragile, fleeting happiness that is as good as it gets for the world – that’s why they’re still searching! No, it’s the deep, abiding joy we have regardless of circumstances that only comes through our relationship with Jesus and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes, though, life presses in and even we forget. I know I do. So, let’s talk a little about what God says about joy. No real AHA moments here; no mic drop at the end, just a loving reminder.
Some people say joy is a choice. True; but it’s a choice to obey, or not. God is abundantly direct in His admonitions about joy. It is not a suggestion. He says in Thessalonians 5, “BE joyful always.” It is a command. Notice that He also doesn’t say sometimes, or when things are going well for you. Be joyful always. Evidently cultivating a grateful spirit is closely tied to being joyful since His very next admonition is “Give thanks in ALL, not some, circumstances.” If we cultivate hearts of gratitude, joy WILL follow. And as if that is not enough for us, He ties joy and thankfulness to His will for us in that same passage.
In Romans 12 we see it again, “BE joyful in hope” – regardless of our current circumstances we have a blessed hope – this should result in soul soothing joy. Is this any less a command than, “Let there BE light?” or BE Holy? BE joyful! BE FULL of joy!
Zephaniah 3:17 tells us that the God of the Universe takes joy is US… in you! – The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, He will rejoice over you with singing…. He rejoices over us with singing?! Let that sink in! And when you do, think – How can we not do likewise, knowing His salvation?
Perhaps my favorite reference to joy is Nehemiah 8:10 – “The JOY of the LORD is your STRENGTH.” We are strengthened by taking joy in the Lord. But notice that the converse is also true. If we allow the devil to steal our joy – then he gets our strength too!
I think it is wise to remember that we are not Home. While we don’t want to be so heavenly minded that we’re no earthly good, we need to keep in mind that Heaven awaits. That knowledge should amplify our joy. And, although we may sometimes long for our eternal Home, in the meantime we have the incredible privilege of inviting others to know Christ and spend forever there, too. The question, of course, is how will they be drawn to Christ and eternity in Heaven if they don’t see joy in us?
A friends said recently, “Joy is attractive, joy is memorable, joy makes an impact, and joy reflects the favor of God.” So that’s my charge to all of us for this season and going forward: make the choice of obedience, to BE joyful, no matter what life brings. In so doing you WILL have an impact on the Kingdom. Shalom dear friends! Thanks for reading.
Cindy Weaver is the Vice President of Finance, CFO and Adjunct Professor at Pillar College. Cindy holds a B.A. in Psychology and Sociology from Hope College, a Master’s in Business Administration from Eastern University, an Education Specialist degree from Liberty University, and is currently working on her dissertation toward an Ed.D. from Centenary University.
About Pillar College
Pillar College, founded in 1908, is an institution of higher learning that provides a comprehensive education from a Christ-centered worldview. Pillar is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), licensed by the New Jersey Commission on Higher Education, and is a member of the Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE). Pillar offers associate, bachelors, and master’s degree programs . Pillar College educates, inspires and equips students for excellent scholarship, service and leadership. Rooted in and committed to Christian faith and love, Pillar fosters intellectual, spiritual and social development among its diverse student population. Pillar College has locations in Newark and Paterson, New Jersey. For more information about Pillar College, visit https://pillar.edu