Clothed With JoySeries: Fruit Of The Spirit
CLOTHED WITH JOY
Sermon By Terry Siverd / March 26, 2023 / Cortland Church of Christ - - www.cortlandcoc.org
One of the hallmarks of discipleship is JOY.
We begin our thoughts this morning by asking, “How HAPPY are you?”
Happiness is a highly-sought-after commodity, but happiness in not the same as JOY.
As Christians living in the United States we are governed by a constitution that guarantees the pursuit of happiness.
I am not at all opposed to happiness. In fact I like it, as most people do.
Perhaps there are a few hardcore grumps among us who truly dislike happy faces (an every-season kind of grinch),
but most people would readily acknowledge that hanging with happy people is the highly-preferred option.
As the Amazon company has discovered that packages with “smiles” delivered timely promotes smiles among recipients.
One upturned set of lips works to begat another. I find it hard to not smile when I dine in a Chic-fil-A.
But HAPPINESS is not the same as JOY.
Our dictionaries sometime blur the distinction, making one a synonym for the other, but they are different.
It is not that happiness is secular and joy is sacred, however happiness tends to react while joy tends to transcend.
Someone has noted, “Joy runs deep and overflows, while happiness is intermittent and fleeting.”
Happiness tends to be moody. Its origin and sustenance is often conditioned by the people around us,
as well as the sequences of events in our life and/or the current circumstances we find ourselves in.
All of these are prone to volatility: when things go well, we're happy, but when they don't, we unhappy.
The Scriptures use both of these words, happiness and joy. This is especially seen in our modern translations.
It is not always easy to distinguish which is which, so we have to be careful in defining our terms.
In newer versions of the beatitudes (Mt.5:3f), “blessed joy” is rendered by the phrase, “happy are those...”.
As always, context provides the key to interpretation.
In Eccl.2:10-11/NCV) King Solomon wrote about his quest for “pleasure” - - pleasures often equated with happiness.
Anything I saw and wanted, I got for myself; I did not miss any pleasure I desired. I was pleased with
everything I did, and this pleasure was the reward for all my hard work. But then I looked at what I had
done, and I thought about all the hard work. Suddenly I realized it was useless, like chasing the wind...
Happiness is both extremely volatile and vulnerable. It is insecure and unsure, unreliable and unpredictable.
A happiness that is predicated on people can be swiftly torn and tattered, with trust turning to distrust.
When happiness is built on wealth or possessions it too, becomes hazardous. Changes and fluctuations can
happen in a heartbeat: “the inexorable forces of decay, deterioration, devaluation, and depreciation
are everywhere at work in the world” (Phillip Keller, A Gardener Looks At The Fruit Of The Spirit, p.98).
Things once viewed as precious can fade before our very eyes. I'm a bibliophile. I love books.
Being a bibliophile is not too far removed from becoming a bibliolatrist.
Its a sad thing when we witness someone's possessions coming to possess them.
A happiness that is based on buoyant good health can also become a delusion.
“Time takes its toll...vigor vanes; beauty fades; reflexes slow down; eyes grow dim;
hearing fails; teeth fall out; memory falters; and body vitality diminishes” (Keller).
In one of David's psalms (Ps.30:10-12) we read: 'Hear, O Lord, and be gracious to me; O Lord, be Thou my helper.'
Thou has turned for me my mourning into dancing; Thou hast loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness.
That my soul may sing praise to Thee, and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to Thee forever.
Here we find the source of true Joy.
Unlike happiness, JOY is not rooted in people or possessions nor is it determined by events or things.
The wellspring of the joy of living (Hymn #202) is GOD HIMSELF.
It is the Lord above who girds us with gladness or clothes us with joy.
As Nehemiah declared to exiles who were destitute, disheartened, downcast and downtrodden (Neh.8:10) - -
Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.
Joy is germinated when we sow the seeds of God's trustworthiness.
As the apostle Paul affirmed (Rom.8:31), If God is for us, who is against us?
In Jn.10:10, Jesus assured His disciples, saying, I have (come) that (you) may have life, and have it abundantly.
The apostle John notes in 1Jn.1:2f - - we bear witness and proclaim to you the eternal life,
which was with the Father and was manifested to us...and indeed our fellowship is with the Father,
and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.
When our lives become anchored in Christ Jesus we are graced with a joy that surpasses happiness.
This is why we read about the early saints who rejoiced in the midst of their sufferings (Js.1:2 and 1Pet.1:8 & 4:13).
This is why, still today, we can weather the storms of life with an inner joy.
As King David stated, even our mourning is turned into dancing (Ps.30:11).
This explains how Christians can smile and rejoice even at funerals and during seasons of significant loss.
The is the joy in the Holy Spirit that Paul speaks about in Rom.14:17.
HOW DO WE OBTAIN THIS INNER JOY?
Simply, but emphatically, stated: JOY is found in CHRSIT JESUS.
Joy is not derived from or fueled by people or places or possessions.
Its locus (location) is not found in genetics or genealogy (lineage); not in geography; not in politics; not in economics;
not in erudition or education; and certainly not in meteorology (weather - - we need Sonshine not sunshine).
The problem with most people is that they are looking for JOY in all the wrong places.
Do you know how you get into Christ Jesus?
It doesn't come just by reading the Bible once in a while.
It doesn't come about just by going to church - - even on a regular basis.
Listen to Paul's inspired words (Gal.3:26-27) - - You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
For all of you who were baptized into Christ Jesus have clothed yourselves with Christ.
If you want the blessing of being clothed with Joy, then you must be clothed with Christ Jesus!
Baptism signifies our personal crucifixion and resurrection.
Gal.2:20 states - - I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; And the
life that I now live in the the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself for me.