Y’know what I’ve been thinking about this week? Joy.
Joy is such a powerful thing. It gets thrown in there with happiness a lot, but joy is so much bigger. Here’s what’s really hitting me–joy isn’t an emotion.
That might sound confusing, because joy causes some of our favorite emotions: excitement, happiness, and delight. But joy itself is a fruit of the Spirit, found in Galatians 5. The fruits of the Spirit are actions that we display when live the way that Jesus did. Joy is #2 on the list. While it might be strange to realize that joy isn’t an emotion, it’s also kind of freeing. Let me explain.
If joy isn’t an emotion, then I don’t have to try and hype myself up to practice it.
If joy isn’t an emotion, then it’s always accessible to me.
If joy isn’t an emotion, then anybody anywhere at anytime can walk in joy.
Takes the pressure off, doesn’t it? Joy is the reality we walk in, when we know who Jesus is. When we know our sins were paid for on the cross and we can walk in the freedom of Christ. When we let that truth sink deep into our bones, nothing can touch us. Circumstances might be inconvenient. We will still feel frustration, fear, or anger in the moment, but the joy of Jesus will always win out in the end.
But there is something that will try to steal our joy: comparison.
You see, in order to live in that mindset of joy, we need to be content with what God has given us. 1 Timothy 6:6 tells us that, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” One of the things we have to gain with that contentment is deep joy.
Friends, as long as we are comparing our life to someone else’s, that peace of contentment will be just out of our reach. So much of the division and brokenness we’re seeing in the world right now comes from comparison. What is my neighbor doing? Am I doing this better than them?
It’s not getting us very far, is it?
The powerful combination of 1 Timothy 6:6 is godliness and contentment. Put simply, being more like God + trusting that he’ll give you all you need for today leads to the life we want to live.
This is especially hard because our culture is obsessed with comparison. It’s how we’re taught to succeed. Rewiring our brains to be content with what we have right now, today takes faith and work. We might not even catch ourselves comparing, but the symptoms start to show up. One of the main symptoms of comparison is that we have a hard time being happy for others when they succeed.
If our response to another person’s happiness is, “Why them and not me?” we need to spend some time with Jesus. The comparison battle is a losing one. Because one of the greatest places to find joy is with others! When we compare, we also isolate. We distance ourselves and miss out on the chance to rejoice with those who rejoice (Romans 12:15).
Brothers and sisters, we’re living a world that needs the joy of Jesus. Let’s confess to him, change our thinking, stop comparing. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to get my joy back!