Friday, August 20, 2010

The Importance of Joy

This is a true story: A certain pastor had a man in his church who was taking an extended business trip. It was going to happen at the time his family would be driving across country for a vacation; it couldn’t be helped. But after the man flew to his business trip, the whole thing got cut short. So he had choices. He could fly back home early, and enjoy the peace and quiet of having the home to himself. He could switch his return ticket for a ticket to the place his family was headed for. But he chose a third, rather bizarre, option. He flew to a city on the road his family would be traveling. Then he paid a cab driver to take him to a lonely spot on the highway, where he waited for his family to drive by and see him.

Can you imagine how long he must have waited? Can you imagine the scene in the car as they recognize him? Can you imagine the screams in that car as mom stomps on the brakes? The incredulous questions, “What in the world are you doing out here?” Imagine, after the shock has passed, the laughter in that car: “Man, I told you it was dad!” “You should have seen her face when she saw you!” Anyway, this guy’s plan worked to perfection. Later on, he was telling his pastor the story. And the pastor said, “Are you crazy? What if they’d passed out and driven off the road? What if they didn’t see you and just kept driving? Why would you do that?” The man’s response was, “Someday I’m going to be dead. I hope when my kids think about me, they’ll say, ‘ol’ dad was a really fun guy.’” That made the pastor think. “How will my kids remember me? ‘Ol’ dad, he really was into his work. He was in that office all day, every day.’ ‘Ol’ dad, he was all about keeping that yard mowed, nice and neat.’ ‘Ol’ dad, he really ran a tight ship. Remember what he did to me that time I got a D in physics?’”

Now I know what you’re thinking, because I thought it, too: Being a fun guy doesn’t put food on the table, doesn’t teach those kids respect for what’s right. I agree. Being “fun” is no substitute for responsibility, hard work, and discipline. Those are things the Bible talks extensively about, and they are essential. But guess what? The Bible also talks extensively about joy. In fact, the Old Testament contains 23 different Hebrew words for joy. It, too, is essential to life. And as we continue our study of the Fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-26), we don’t see responsibility, hard work, or discipline. But we do see joy. What I want us all to see this Sunday is that if we are holy people, we will be people of joy. I hope to see you Sunday...and I hope you enjoy every minute until then.


No More Homelessness said...

I really like your blog. I am from the UK. However I am learning so much from your blog so I thank you for sharing it with us.

God bless

Mona said...

Not to nit-pick, but every version of the Bible I've read says "fruit of the Spirit" - singular - which makes me think that God meant for that to be a package deal. One fruit with nine parts. You accept Christ, His Spirit indwells you and you get 'em all. It's like an orange with its sections or a cluster of grapes, all are hooked to the same vine, all of them taste the same: you get one, you get all. Whether or not we choose to recognize what we have, is of course, up to us. Some of us have personalities that make it easier for some aspect of God's fruit of the Spirit to shine more than others. A shy, gentle person won't have a bit of trouble recognizing that his/her gentleness is manifested by God's Spirit, but a loud extrovert may have to spend a lot of time in prayer to allow the Spirit's gentleness to come forward and be visible to others. Doesn't mean it isn't there, it just means we have to allow the Sirit to change us from within, claiming all the while all nine parts as our own and praying that God will help us see the part we think is missing.
Thanks for doing this series of sermons. The fruit of the Spirit is one of our birthrights as Christians.
Mona Follis