Monday, October 1, 2012

Joy vs. Happiness

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4).

Paul’s heart was free to rejoice even though his body was locked up in prison. He had every reason to be depressed but he chose to be joyful because his happiness was not based on the circumstance in which he found himself, but in his Savior into whom he was baptized (Galatians 3:27). The reason for his joy cannot be understood from a physical mindset. The physical circumstance might make anyone depressed, but Paul didn’t focus on the physical circumstance. He chose to focus on the spiritual salvation that was his in Christ, His beloved Savior. His physical life was only a stepping stone to the spiritual rest waiting for him. He was sure that His Savior would rescue him from discouragement.

We are like Paul in our relationship to our surroundings. Paul revealed to us that we are all sinners in need of a Savior (Romans 3:23). We are all held in prison by Satan’s weapon, the weakness of flesh. He uses the weakness of flesh to tempt us to focus on the circumstance, knowing there is no rest for those whose focus is on the physical aspect of life. Paul also revealed that in Christ we have been given opportunity to see past physical life and rest on the eternal promises from our God (Romans 6:23). We can allow Satan to steal our joy by focusing on the physical situations of life that bind us to sinfulness, or we can be like Paul and look past the physical imprisonment of flesh to focus on God’s promises to make us free from the physical surroundings and deliver us into spiritual rest.

To find that joy that gave Paul the power to rejoice even while chained to guards we must find happiness in God’s faithfulness: “God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:9). This world continues to disappoint us by making promises it cannot keep, but God’s integrity assures us of the eternal joy that is found only through faith in the promises of life in His Son. His promises will always be fulfilled and we can be assured of our salvation because He “cannot lie” (Titus 1:2). Because of this faith His promise of eternal life brings rest to the heart, mind and soul of anyone who will remain faithful to His will (Revelation 2:10).

Are you happy in your situation? You are if you are in Christ. He has been God’s plan for happiness for eternity: “This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him” (Ephesians 3:11-12). He died to transport us out of this physical world and into His eternal kingdom to bring you joy. He can only bring joy to you if you will focus on His wondrous work and not the negative surroundings of where we sojourn. The joy that is found in Christ is not the condition of being in Christ, it is the result. Christ died and was raised to bring this joy to anyone that will die to self and follow Him.

In His Grace,
Cub

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