If we really believe the joy that Almighty God gives us can be stolen by mere humans, then we will live less joyfully than God has planned for us. We are quick to blame others for stealing our joy. Do you ever think, “He made me so angry,” or “She makes me act ugly?” Yep—me too! But when I think this way, it’s evident that I’ve forgotten WHO God is.
When God gives us joy, it’s so powerful that no human can steal it—unless we let them.
WE control our reactions to evil. We can’t control the behavior of others; but we are not trapped into letting them control us because—Christ has made us free! We are never forced to walk into a trap of hate, bitterness, or ugliness. If we’ve gone there, it’s because we’ve chosen to.
The Apostle Paul was unjustly imprisoned, and instead of becoming bitter, he allowed himself to be an instrument of God’s inspiration write the book of Philippians which is the “joy book.” He wrote, “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:12-13) He wrote joy—from prison—because he was free! His joy was supernatural because it had nothing to do with his dismal circumstances.
Paul knew God well enough to not let the temporary stinking, filthy hole he was in, rob him of the JOY of the permanent freedom He had in Christ. He also gave us some great exercises to practice to help us overcome our own joy-thieving habits. He wrote, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things…practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:4, 8-9)
When we feel ourselves falling out of joy, we can begin thanking God for the irreplaceable spiritual blessings of His presence, like His love, mercy, peace, strength, and wisdom; as well as His physical blessings, like life, relationships and material gifts. Thanking Him reminds us to take hold of our joy. We never have to trade joy in for bitterness. No one has the power to take away the joy that GOD has given us. When our greatest joy is in—unfailing, Almighty God—our joy is never stolen by anyone.
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