September 18, 2008

Protecting Joy

Philippians 3:1-9

Rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write [these] things … and it is a safeguard for you.
Philippians 3:1


Joy is a precious gift. It is so precious that it must be protected from forces that suppress it. In fact, Paul’s tone exudes urgency as he calls believers to be vigilant about guarding their spiritual birthright.

The words “rejoice in the Lord” can also be interpreted to mean “let the Lord be the one who makes you happy” or “find your joy in him and in him alone.”

The great threat to real joy is the belief that joy is either a reward for good work or the fruit of a combination of God’s love and human achievement.

The Bible, however, directs us to ask, “With what shall I come before the LORD … ?” (Micah 6:6).

The answer is “Nothing—nothing but my sin and emptiness.” I have nothing that deserves the Lord’s reward and his joy.

Joy is a gift, the fruit of salvation in Jesus Christ. The Bible considers any other perspective a betrayal of the gospel.

No wonder Paul says, “Watch out.” God desires that we place our confidence in the gracious character and loving work of Jesus Christ alone.

The psalmist says, “Come and see what God has done, how awesome his works in man’s behalf! … Come, let us rejoice in him” (Psalm 66:5-6).

Be vigilant in protecting your joy in Jesus Christ!

Lord, protect me from believing that human achievement can refine your gift of joy. Help me to praise your name, rest in your love, and trust in you alone as Savior. Amen.

About the author — Calvin Hoogendoorn

Rev. Calvin Hoogendoorn serves as senior pastor of First Christian Reformed Church in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Previously he served two churches in Illinois. He and his wife, Carla, have three daughters.

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