“These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11)
There are many things that bring joy to our lives, our relationships, maybe our successful careers, perhaps even our possessions. We should find joy in those things. James tells us that every good gift comes from God (James 1:17). Our possessions, our successful careers, and our good relationships are ultimately from God, so thank Him for them. But what about obedience, do you find joy in obeying someone else’s will? I think most of us, at least to some degree bristle at the thought of obeying the will of another. And the thought that doing so could actually bring us joy is even more unlikely. But finding joy in obedience is not only what Jesus taught, but also what He demonstrated by His life.
“These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” Jesus spoke these words to His disciples in the Upper Room. He loved them greatly. It was their last night together before He would be delivered up for crucifixion. The time for which Jesus had come was now upon Him. It was time to die. How could Jesus find joy knowing that, and how could He desire that same joy be found in His disciples willing obedience to the Father? Though He agonized over the cross and separation from His Father, Scripture is clear about Jesus’ desire to do the Father’s will (Matthew 26:39). As He lived and preached, Jesus always submitted perfectly to the Father’s will, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me” (John 6:38). He also submitted in death. Doing God’s will brought Jesus criticism from others. It brought Him even more than that. His mission, to “seek and save the lost” was not always a welcome one.
Doing the will of God will bring criticism, opposition and consequence for you and me as well. Worldly standards don’t care much for what God desires and people who delight only in what they can see will often remain critical of your choices.
For Jesus, joy was never situational. Nor was it for the apostle Paul. A prominent theme of his letter to the Philippians was joy. He wrote it from prison knowing his imprisonment would ultimately serve to advance the gospel. Paul valued knowing Christ, everything else he counted as loss (Philippians 3:8-9).
Do you find joy in obeying God’s will? It’s an important question because God’s grace doesn’t leave obedience as optional (1 John 5:3). In fact, true grace plants the desire to do God’s will in our hearts. Is it planted in yours? The thought that obedience could bring joy may be contrary to the thoughts of the natural man, but you are a child of God in whom the Holy Spirit dwells. As such, your standards concerning obedience should be different? Let the motivation of your obedience be what God has done for you in Christ. Jesus wants our obedience to bring joy, joy that is “full”. Remember, it is only completed in Him.
Father, You are so gracious when we seek to find joy in other things. The thought that obedience to Your will could be all-fulfilling is contrary to what our world teaches. Thank You for teaching us the truth. Thank You for Jesus, whose perfect obedience atoned for my sin. Thank You that He overcame the grave. Let me find my joy in obedience to Your will that my joy may be full. Amen!