Joy The Great Choice

by Teri Lynne

"Life need not be easy to be joyful.  Joy is not the absence of trouble but the presence of God." ~ William Van Der Hoven

"My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations."  James 1:2
"Count it all joy" ... all of it. 

So often we fail in this endeavor as believers ... counting it all joy.

Life overwhelms us.  We face trials, temptations, and testing.  We get caught up in the circumstances and situations that seem to be overtaking us.

The Greek word used here is hegeomai and means "to govern, rule; to think, consider." 

We should be governed, ruled, by the joy we have in Christ.  Instead we are guilty, far too often, of being defined by cynicism or complaint.

In studying this verse, I notice two important truths.

1.  Joy is a command.

James is not suggesting that we consider the difficulties and struggles in our life as joy nor is saying we might want to think about life this way.

NO!  He is clear ... "Count it all joy..."

As believers, JOY is not optional.  We are expected to live in joy.  Paul writes to us in Galatians about the fruit of the Spirit and joy is listed second only to love in the list of what must be evident in our lives.
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." ~ Galatians 5:22 - 23.
Joy, as Paul and James define it, is rejoicing, gladness.  We live in gladness, a deep-seated awareness of the grace of Christ in our lives that is unrelated to and independent of any circumstance or trial we may face.

2.  Joy is a choice.

As with all things, our sweet Heavenly Father does not impose His will on us.  We are commanded to live in joy; but, we are given the privilege of choosing obedience in this area as with all others.

We have the ability to choose to view life's difficulties in light of the cross.  And when I consider the suffering Christ faced on Calvary, nothing in my life seems so overwhelming or significant that I can choose anything other than joy.

I have heard these two truths stated by several pastors:
  • Outlook determines outcome.
  • Attitude determines action.
I believe these two statements are absolutely true and when applied to this Scripture leave us with a clear picture of what JOY should look like in our lives.

A joyful outlook understand that obedience to God's commands will result in an outcome that brings honor and glory to Him.

A joyful attitude is a choice we make daily to focus on Christ and His grace toward us which leads to actions that point others to Him.

So, I wonder, today will you be obedient to our Lord's command for joyful living?  Will you make the choice to focus on Him in all things and trust in the joy that He offers?

Next Article:
Joy: Profound Growth by Teri Lynne

Teri Lynne is an avid lover of books, constant drinker of strong coffee (with lots of sugar and creamer), and passionate follower of Christ. Married to Scott since 1996 and mother of Casiday since 2000, Teri Lynne, in her words, is living her own happily ever after ... mostly. Writing and teaching women to live empowered, confident lives in Christ and HIS strength is a dream come true for her. You can find her musings almost daily at "Pleasing to You" where she encourages, challenges and inspires others to pursue lives that are pleasing to God.


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{ pjmomof3boys } at: October 14, 2009 at 5:11 AM said...

What a wonderful way to start my day, Teri Lynne! As a society we focus so much on "happiness" and wonder why we're never truly happy. I think it's because "happiness" focuses on "me" and "joy" focuses on Christ. We can choose to be filled with joy every day, even when life brings sadness or frustration, because we know that those feelings are only temporary, where joy through Christ is everlasting. Thank you so much for reminding me to focus on joy today! :)

{ Sisterlisa } at: October 14, 2009 at 7:47 AM said...

You know after 15 years of being a Believer I feel like I am just now understanding real genuine joy. I agree with Paula, happiness is focused on 'me' and joy is focused on 'Christ". Thanks Paula.

I can count it 'all' joy because I know that God is in the driver's seat and He can and will bring His divine purpose to pass even during difficult times. So when hard times comes I count it as joy because I can look forward to what He will show me through it, A deeper walk with Him as I trust Him through the circumstances of this life.

{ Reborn } at: October 14, 2009 at 8:41 AM said...

Great reminder! I was struck by the fact that the verse in James says "When you fall" not "if you fall"... falling isn't optional or something we grow out of! Hmmmm...

{ Pure Perseverance } at: October 14, 2009 at 9:26 AM said...

Thank you for this article. It was right on time! I sure want to remain in His joy so that my joy may be full. John 15:11

God bless

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