They broke bread . . . and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily. . . .
Have you ever gone to a show or a movie and laughed so hard that your face hurt? That has happened to me. There’s this one guy in my life who can make me laugh really hard too. For whatever reason, when he’s around, there’s often great laughter and even joy.
As Jesus’ early followers began to emerge, something was happening that caught the attention of others: joy rose up from among them.
Their lives were marked by Jesus, clearly seen in their deep devotion and great joy. Acts makes clear that they met daily, worshiped regularly, and had glad and generous hearts. Jesus’ followers had this internal joy marked with gladness, and it was not for themselves. Their outward-facing generosity brought joy into the lives of the people around them.
Maybe when Jesus had taught them about the kingdom of God, he had shared how exciting and strange it would be to have so much joy that people would wonder and want what they had. Luke reports that they grew in favor with all the people and that the Lord added many to their numbers.
Ask yourself if this joy is real for you. There are times when life can be hard and we can get discouraged. But it can also help to look deeper and see that joy grows when we are glad and generous as we look forward in hope.
Lord, I want to grow in my understanding of what it means to be marked by joy. Even when life is tough, mark my life with great joy in you. Amen.
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