"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:14

Friday, October 19, 2012

Infectious Joy

When was the last time you caused someone’s joy to overflow? Having just laid out the spectrum of possibilities (as the ultimate win-win situation) by the declaration that for him “to live is Christ; to die is gain,” Paul now assures the Philippian church that he expects to be with them for a while…for this very purpose:

Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me.  (Philippians 1:25-26)

Whatever attitudes we carry with us, whatever qualities we clothe ourselves in (Colossians 3), we infect others with them, for better or for worse. We are social by nature, and in our interactions with others we cause some kind of a ripple effect. We can stir waves of discontent and dissention, or we can cause ripples of joy—overflowing joy—in the lives of others.

Sometimes the thought of a joyous person conjures images of a beaming face, always smiling from ear to ear, exuding positive affirmations morning to night. Somehow, this image does not match up with serious minded Paul. He was rooted in truths, even the uncomfortable ones, and he apparently had no trouble speaking these truths (in love). And yet, he could comfortably say that he expected his presence to cause their joy to overflow! This causes us some confusion because of our misunderstandings about joy. It is not necessarily always an emotional state (as is happiness). Like love, joy is not always a feeling, but finds its firm foundation in what we truly believe. And here is where Paul excelled. He was (and is) the master of reminding us of the true source of enduring, overflowing joy.

By keeping a God’s eye view of things, even uncomfortable circumstances and disappointing interpersonal encounters, he was able to hold steady. By sharing this perspective with others, he was able to infect them with this joy—to overflowing. Paul knew, and wanted the Philippians to know, that in Christ, we are secure. There are no bad outcomes. Whether we are in prison or free, rich or poor, hungry or fed, live or die, Jesus has our backs. We are his and he is ours. God loves us with an everlasting love. Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. Our present sufferings are less than a blip on the radar screen of eternity, if we are united to Christ by faith. Such perspectives are reality. Our current circumstances, whether good or bad, are only temporary. What lasts is the mansion just over the hilltop, an abode that overflows with joy and happiness—forever.

Our attitudes and perspectives affect the way we feel about, and deal with, the things and people we encounter in our lives. They also affect those around us. As you go out into the world, as you deal with those in your own household or church, how about considering ways to infect them with joy?


Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (John 14:1-3)


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