Bearing the fruit of joy
"Joy is the flag flown high from the castle of my heart for the King is in residence there."—Source unknown
I once figured out that I worked a week on Sunday. Let me explain. I tried to get into the office a little before 6:00 a.m. to finish up my sermon and get ready for the day. At 9:00 a.m., I preached the first sermon. According to researchers, the energy exerted in a sermon is roughly equivalent to the energy exerted at a desk job in an eight-hour day. (I’ve done both; I think it’s pretty close.) I used to preach four services each Sunday so that’s thirty-two hours right there plus the three-hour warm-up in the morning, plus a couple of hours of informal meetings afterwards and “Presto!” I’ve worked at least a forty-hour day before the sun even sets.
Okay, so the math isn’t all that solid, but this is all to say that when I plop down on the couch on a Sunday evening, I start to get that it’s-the-end-of-finals-week feeling that only comes after that last exam in college. It’s that same sensation that comes from taking your ski boots off after a great day on the slopes. And as I put my feet up, I think “Oh, that is the biblical concept of JOY!” Why? Because JOY in Scripture is the exuberance of a completed act! Let’s connect that type of experience with Jesus’ teaching about the vine from John 15:
“If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”—John 15:10-11
There are at least five kinds of “fruit” that we bear when we rest and remain in a loving relationship with Jesus. The first is a completed joy. People are looking for joy all over the place, but what this text teaches us is that complete joy presupposes complete and unqualified obedience! No one is more miserable that the Christian who hedges on his or her obedience. (I know this too well, and you do too.) If you want to experience complete joy, that’s found at the end of obedience as we walk in the Spirit.
Where are you seeking joy today? In an intimate relationship with Christ? Or are you looking somewhere else?
Lord Jesus, make my heart sensitive to Your commands today. Give me the desire and the ability to hear Your Spirit guiding me each step of the way. As I face opportunities to compromise, give me the willingness to take Your “way of escape” so that I will remain in You, just as You always promise to live in me. You are the vine, I am the branch. Only You can bring about this fruit of obedient joy. Thank You for doing it!
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