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How to Be a Joy-Giver

How to Be a Joy-Giver

We all want to live a joy-filled life. Right? But the way we experience joy can often be confusing – if we listen to the wrong voices.

A pastor tells of a beautiful lesson learned one day when he casually wished one of his older church members a good day. The man remarked, "They're all good days, Pastor. It's what we put into each day that changes them." A simple life is a joy-filled life. Joy is the deeply rooted confidence that God is in control. When our lives are under the control of God, they will be simple lives characterized by joy.

Proverbs 10: 28 (NIV) "The prospect of the righteous is joy."

In this verse, "prospect" means "to view or to anticipate." The righteous mentioned in this verse refers to those who have fully surrendered their lives to God. They have been made righteous or have been given right standing through that personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Jesus is the boss. He is Lord. And if He is not Lord of all, then He is not Lord at all. In other words, when Jesus comes into our lives, He comes with true joy and makes it a reality.

Let's look at the life of a simple man who truly understood and experienced joy in its truest sense – the life of Paul and the letter he wrote to the church at Philippi. It is interesting to note that Paul wrote this letter in circumstances that seem anything but joyful. Paul was in prison, awaiting trial and facing death. He was old and alone. Paul had been beaten, stoned, and ridiculed because of his faith in Jesus. He was in poor health and almost blind. As far as I can tell, Paul had no earthly reason to be joyful. Ah! There it is. The truth that joy is not an earthly treasure. It is a heavenly gift from a Father who is committed to the joy of His children.

I love the story of a little girl who misquoted her favorite Bible verse. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have ever laughing life." She may have quoted it wrong, but I think she got the deeper meaning of that promise absolutely right. God did not send His son just to give us life – now and eternally – but to give us a life of joy – now and eternally. If that is true, why do our lives seem to be joyless? Here's the secret. If we want more joy, we must become joy-givers – like Paul. Paul gave a lot of joy to the church at Philippi through his teaching and service to them. And the church at Philippi gave joy back to him. In essence, the book of Philippians is a thank you note, written by Paul, thanking the church at Philippi for being joy-givers. It is also a blueprint of how to become a joy-giver.

Remember What We Have Been Given

Philippians 4:15 (NIV) "You people in Philippi remember when I first preached the Good News there."

We need to stop and remember what God has given us. If we were to list all we have been given, we would probably start by listing temporary things instead of eternal ones. We were created by God for God, who has a perfect plan for our lives. He has given us an instructional manual for living this life. It is the bible. But the most amazing gift God has given us is a personal relationship with Him made possible by the death of His son, Jesus Christ, on the cross.

We have heard countless messages, completed bible studies, read about, and often discussed just how much Jesus gave us when He was willing to die on the cross to pay for our sins. I know. It should have been me hanging on that cross to pay for my sin. That reality is the source of true joy for me, and I want to learn how to give that joy away. But we cannot give what we do not have. We cannot give joy if we don't have joy produced by the presence of a living God at work in our lives.

With each new truth comes a choice – to obey or disobey. With truth comes responsibility, the responsibility to practice that truth or disregard it. Disobedience brings condemnation. Truth only sets us free when we act on it. We need to rehearse, remember, and rejoice in the truth God has given us. To be a joy-giver, we must remember what we have been given.

Look for a Need and Meet It

Philippians 4:14 (NCV) "But it was good that you helped me when I needed help."

Many times, instead of looking for a need, we look the other way. In my book, Sandpaper People, author Charles Osgood says it so well:

"Once upon a time

There were four men named

Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody.

There was an important job to be done

And Everybody was asked to do it.

But Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it.

Anybody could have done it.

But Nobody did it.

Somebody got angry about it

Because it was Everybody's job.

Everybody thought that Anybody could do it

And Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn't do it.

It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody

And Nobody did the job

That Anybody could have done in the first place."

It is a paradox of the Christian life that the more we give, the more we receive.

Luke 6:38 (NCV) "Give, and you will receive. You will be given much. Pressed down, shaken together, and running over, it will spill into your lap. The way you give to others is the way God will give to you."

If you want joy, invest your life in others. Look for a need and meet it. We were created to need each other. We were created to share the load. A shared load is a lighter load!

F.B. Meyer once noted:

"I used to think, that God's gifts were on shelves-

One above another

And the taller we grow,

The easier we can reach them.

Now I find that

God's gifts are on shelves




And the lower we stoop,

The more we get." (From Sandpaper People, Mary Southerland)

2 Corinthians 9:10 (NCV) "For God is the one who gives seed to the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will give you many opportunities to do good, and he will produce a great harvest of generosity in you."

Give materially.

Give time.

Give encouragement.

Give a praying heart.

Give a listening ear.

Give yourself.

The more you give, the more you will experience joy, and the more you experience joy, the more joy you will want to give. It is a spiritual boomerang!

I once heard a prescription for joy. A young believer came to a man who had followed Christ for many years with this complaint. "I have lost my joy!" the young man said. The older, wiser Christian responded, "Go out and do something for someone else. Repeat that act of kindness nine times! Then you will find joy!" Look for a need and meet it.

Remember the Rewards of Giving Joy

Philippians 4:17 (NCV) "Really, it is not that I want to receive gifts from you. But I want you to have the good that comes from giving…Your gift is like a sweet-smelling sacrifice offered to God. God accepts that sacrifice, and it pleases him."

God Is Pleased

"A sweet-smelling sacrifice"

"It pleases him"

When we give, we are not only giving joy to a person in need, but we are also giving joy back to God. It is an offering laid on the altar as a sacrificial gift.

Hebrews 13:16 (NLT) "And don't forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God."

"A sweet-smelling sacrifice" refers to the sweet-smelling incense that was burned along with the Jewish sacrifices. Their gift was made in faith, not just to Paul, but to God as well. When we meet a need, it is a pleasing aroma to the Father. Maybe we need an attitude adjustment, a correction of our viewpoint of giving. I love the story of three men who were working on a large building project. One man was asked, 'What are you doing?" The man responded, "I'm mixing mortar." The second man said, "I'm helping put this great stone wall." When the third man was asked, he replied, "I'm building a cathedral to the glory of God." What a difference the right perspective can make when it comes to service. When we meet a need, we are giving through that need to God Himself. That met need becomes a heavenly deposit slip in our Kingdom account. Matthew says it so well.

Matthew 6:19-20 (NIV), "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasure in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal."

Joy-givers please God. What a great reward!

Your Needs are Met

Philippians 4:19 (NCV) "My God will use his wonderful riches in Christ Jesus to give you everything you need."

In other words, Paul is telling the church at Philippi that because they met Paul's needs, God will meet theirs. Don't miss this truth! Paul thanks the Philippians for meeting one of his needs. One! But because they did meet that one need, God will meet all of theirs. The Philippians gave out of their limited resources, but God will give out of His unlimited resources.

2 Corinthians 9: 8 (NLT) "And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need, and plenty left over to share with others."

Wow! What a mind-blowing principle! That same principle is still true today. We simply cannot out-give God. When a friend and I were talking about the fact that God wants to give us so much more than we can imagine or ask for, she smiled and said, "I just got an email with the greatest story of a man who discovered just how much God loves him and wants to give him good things."

"I got off at the Pennsylvania depot as a tramp. For a year, I begged on the streets for a living. One day, I touched a man on the shoulder and said, "Hey, mister, can you please give me a dime?" When the man turned around and I saw his face, I was shocked to see that it was my father. I couldn't believe it! 'Father, do you know me?' I cried. My father threw his arms around me and began to weep. 'Oh, my son! I finally found you,' he said. 'You ask for a dime? Everything I have is yours.' Just think of it. I was a tramp. I stood begging my own father for ten cents when, for 18 years, he had been looking for me to give me all that he had.

God stands today, arms open wide, ready to pour out His unspeakable gift of joy into our lives! He wants us to have an abundant life, a life of joy so that we can share that joy with a joy-less world.

Photo credit: ©GettyImages/jacoblund

Mary Southerland is also the Co-founder of Girlfriends in God, a conference and devotion ministry for women. Mary’s books include, Hope in the Midst of Depression, Sandpaper People, Escaping the Stress Trap, Experiencing God’s Power in Your Ministry, 10-Day Trust Adventure, You Make Me So Angry, How to Study the Bible, Fit for Life, Joy for the Journey, and Life Is So Daily. Mary relishes her ministry as a wife, a mother to their two children, Jered and Danna, and Mimi to her six grandchildren – Jaydan, Lelia, Justus, Hudson, Mo, and Nori.

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