When the Angels announced to the shepherds that the “Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11) had been born, they proclaimed that this was “good news of great joy for all the people” (Luke 2:10). Christmas is a time of great joy because Jesus has come into our world as fully God and fully man. Being fully God, Jesus is free from sin and under no penalty of death (Rom 6:23). Being fully man, Jesus can offer Himself to die for mankind to pay the penalty for sin. Tim Keller puts it this way: “Jesus lived the life we should have lived and died the death we deserved to die because of sin, so that God could accept us.” Being “accepted” means that God forgives our sin and allows His Spirit to dwell within us and change us. One important change within Christians is the ability to “rejoice evermore” (1 Thess 5:16) How can we do this? Consider:
- Secured Joy. Christians have the ability to rejoice because it has been secured for us by Christ. No one and nothing can take your joy from you. Christ is the good shepherd who laid down His life for His sheep (John 10:11), who told His disciples “This is my body given for you” (Luke 22:19). The “fruit of the Spirit” (Gal 5:22) includes the attribute of joy. This is one of the spiritual blessings (Eph 1:3) granted to us by our merciful and loving God. Not only is our joy secure, it has been bestowed to us. Christ grants us joy to possess and we are not to relinquish it under any circumstances. The problem, however, is that we too often give it away. No one can take your joy, but you can choose to give it up when you allow situations and circumstances to produce anxiety and fear in you. Let us not forfeit what Christ has purchased for us at such a great price (1 Peter 1:19).
- Resilient Joy. Christians have the ability to rejoice because our joy is resilient. The joy Christ gives is able to endure through trials. This is because God intends for our trials to produce spiritual maturity in your life. Consider James 1:2-4: “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” That which God uses to test your faith is designed to increase your faith. As your faith increases, your joy will increase. This is because trials, for a Christian, are not random or purposeless. Trials are meant to test your faith. Trials expose whether or not your faith is genuine. How can you know if your faith is genuine? What do you do when trials come? Do you run from God or to God? When your faith is proven genuine, the result is joy.
- Contagious Joy. Christians have the ability to rejoice and our joy is meant to be shared. Consider this truth: our joy increases the more we share it with others. Joy is not like an apple pie that decreases the more you share it with others. Joy is more like a flame that spreads the more it is shared. The imagery of a flame is helpful because we can either choose to extinguish our joy by withholding it or we can choose to kindle it by sharing it. Joy increases as it is shared. Paul wrote to Philemon “I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you” (Phi 1:7). Too many times we allow people to take our joy. The result is that we are anxious and/or fearful. Rather than handing over our joy, we should commit to sharing our joy. We do this through love and service.
Jesus gives His followers joy. Christians are not supposed to let anyone steal our joy, but are to share our joy with all. We must not allow our joy to be extinguished, but should be spreading it to everyone. If you are not a Christian, admit that you are sinner and repent of your sin. Believe that Jesus is God’s Son who died to bring forgiveness for your sin. Confess your faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord. Be freed from the bondage of sin and find true and lasting joy.