“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.” – Hebrews 10:24
People of Joy
There are two words that I have been thinking about often over the last couple of weeks: fear and shame. We are in a time when much of what we hear, see, and read are rooted in one or both of these emotions. Fear of getting sick, shame for acting selfishly, fear of destroying our financial future, shame for being afraid. Even if we ourselves are not feeling afraid or shameful, many of our friends and neighbors are. As Christians we should not be ruled by fear and shame, rather we should be lighthouses for joy. Joy should be seen as the trademark mindset of Christians especially in the worst of times.
Why is this? Why are Christians able to be joyful and excited even when life is not going our way? Look at 1 Peter 1:8:
“ Though you have not seen him (Jesus), you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your soul.”
The emotion of salvation is inexpressible joy! Paul is writing this to Christians that are being persecuted for their faith. He encourages them to see the truth of their salvation in Christ and root their emotions in that eternal truth, not in the temporary. Christians radiate joy because we have a salvation in Christ which gives us all hope.
When considering how to stir up one another in love and good works we need to consider how our words and actions affect the attitude of those with whom we come in contact. Do we foster an atmosphere of fear and shame, or one of joy and hope? In Philemon 1:7 Paul says to Philemon, “Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.” Look at the influence of Philemon’s love! Not only does his love refresh the hearts of God’s people in his community, it also brings joy and encouragement to those who hear about it. As God’s people we are meant to create atmospheres of joy wherever we are. We are to have a reputation for bringing joy.
You have the opportunity today, this week, and for the rest of your life to bring fear or bring joy to your community. Which will you choose? You can tell others that they should be afraid of what is to come or shame them for what they are doing. Or you can give them hope. You can live in such a way that fear and shame neither come into your heart nor out of your mouth. You can speak of your hope in Christ and your dependence on him alone. You can lighten up a room with your reliance on scripture rather than your reliance on the media. I pray this week that God’s people use every word, action, and thought to bring joy to our communities so that the world may know the hope that we have in Jesus.