We who claim to have joy often look as if we
have been weaned on dill pickles. The “joy, joy, joy, joy way down in
the depths of our hearts” has long departed and in its place is some
sort of ugliness that emerges like a bad taste in our mouths. What
once was a face, shining as bright as the sun, now is a face that is
as long as the day.
Many Christians once possessed a vibrant and
exciting faith, and an upbeat and positive attitude, and a confident
and certain joyfulness. The fullness of their joy has been drained
like a swimming pool. While these people had not lost the experience
of salvation, they lost the joy of their salvation. Where did the joy
go? What caused joy to evaporate from their lives?
Jesus said, “I have told you this so that my
joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:11).
This fullness of joy eludes even the most committed Christians. Many
Christians have exchanged the experience of joy for the weight of
1. For some Christians, the thief of their joy is legalism.
Legalism is the perverted theology that
reduces Christianity to a set of rules. Loaded with guilt-inducing
mechanisms it robs the believer of joy. It transforms the
relationship with Christ to mere religiosity. It points out how short
we fall rather than how far we've come because of what Jesus did for
The answer to legalism is a love-relationship
with Jesus Christ. God did not create us to follow a set of rules or
to teach us a program. His love is not dependent on us doing or not
doing certain activities. In fact, lists and activities may come
between us and God. God created us for a love relationship with him.
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you,” (John 15:9) says
Jesus. We will not experience nor express joy until we are engaged in
a love relationship with Jesus Christ.
2. For some Christians, the stealer of their joy is sin.
Granted, on this side of heaven we will not
be sinless. So sin must be dealt with. We don't deal with sin; Jesus
deals with sin. “He [laid] down his life for his friends” (John
15:13). We don't try to muster up enough will power to control it. We
confess sin to God. Confession is telling God what He already knows.
It is not rationalizing or calling sin something else. It is calling
sin and then getting on with our lives.
Sin and joy cannot occupy the same space. And
it doesn't take much sin to eradicate a lot of joy. A little sin that
remains unconfessed can expand like a little yeast, and squeeze out
all of our joy. Allow God to deal with the sin by confessing it to