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The Path to Joy – a Blog Post

April 6, 2018

Anyone who has known me in a church context over the past number of years has probably heard me say the phrase “It’s All About Relationships”. I think I’ve understood that life is about relationships for most of my life, but God revealed the specific truth about that to me a number of years ago. It has given me a focus and a clarity that I needed and helped me to understand how things fit together a great deal more.

John tells us in his letters (I, II and III John) that the result of right relationships is joy. When people think of relationships, they often go, in their minds to one of two extremes: the good relationships they have or have had, or the bad relationships they have been a part of. Some feel like their lives are a stream of bad relationships and may even wonder what they did to deserve it or why they have made some of the choices they have. They can’t see any joy in relationships any longer. The truth is, in order to understand relationships, we have to understand that there are 5 fundamental relationships and they build upon one another.

  • God to man –
    • John 6:44, No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day.
  • Man’s response to God –
    • Romans 10:9, If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
  • Man’s relationship to Man –
    • Galatians 5:14, For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement: Love your neighbor as yourself.
  • Man’s relationship to Church –
    • Hebrews 10:24-25, And let us watch out for one another to provoke love and good works, 25 not neglecting to gather together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day approaching.
  • Man’s relationship to Organizations –
    • Matthew 5:16, In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

These relationships, which build upon one another, can help foster the joy that God intended for us to have, and give avenues for this joy to be shared with others.

Let’s look for a moment at the introduction to John’s letters and maybe you can see where I get this from…

I John 1:1-4, 1 What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have observed and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life – 2 that life was revealed, and we have seen it and we testify and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us – 3 what we have seen and heard we also declare to you, so that you may also have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

John was writing to the church, to some people who had lost their way in the church to a degree. They had lost their joy, they had not continued on their journey to be grounded in the faith, which led to destructive false doctrines being brought into the church. They had lost their love for the Lord and for one another and had become self-serving. Does this same thing still happen today? Let me put it another way…

Do you ever struggle with losing your joy?

John gives us a glimpse into what leads to true joy in this passage. He writes as one who had the Truth of Christ revealed to Him, walked with Him, and has spent the remainder of his life growing in grace and declaring Him to others. He refers to Christ here as the Word of Life. The path to joy, which is the intent of these letters (verse 4 above) is achieved through a right focus in two areas:

  1. Word of Life – it’s not enough to know about Christ, but when He is revealed to us, we must respond. We must walk with Him, grow in grace, watch Him work and declare Him to others. It’s how the life cycle continues and brings joy.
  2. Fellowship – John describes two aspects of fellowship. The vertical aspect is the fellowship between God and man. We foster that through worship, prayer, Bible study, and communion with Him. The horizontal aspect is that which flows from the vertical and spreads to others. It is fostered through our involvement in Bible study groups, mission work, sharing Christ with others, sharing great times of fellowship, and living for Christ out in the world.

The path to joy goes through the Word of Life and through right fellowship. It is restricted by sinful patterns and behaviors. It is restricted by hard feelings toward others. It is restricted by a lack of belief that God is who He says He is and does what He says He will do.

Joy isn’t restricted by circumstances. You can go through a hard time and still have joy. You can be in a hopeless situation and still have joy. You can face a mountain and still have joy. Joy is your port in the storm, your refuge.

If your joy is fractured or lacking, go back to the Word of Life and get refueled, and then live that out in fellowship with Him and with other people. The Christian life was not meant to be lived in isolation.

For further reference, read John 15:1-17

Be joyous, church! God intends you to walk in His joy.

Blessed,

Tony Watson
Senior Pastor
First Baptist Church of Palestine, TX

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