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No human likes being unhappy. We all want to experience joy! This treasuring of joy is a universal human quality crossing all political, age, and social barriers.
The word ‘joy’ is defined by Merriam-Webster as, “the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires…the expression or exhibition of such emotion…a state of happiness”. Let us look at the biblical understanding of ‘joy,’ the results of well-being.”
Worldly joy is fickle, temporary. It is often followed by depression and guilt, for frequently Satan’s pleasures are contrary to God’s principles of goodness and morality. The joy that the world offers is a poor imitation of the true joy only God can give. The joy that the worldly person experiences is founded on Satan, and his joy is always temporary, for he is the father of death, and his rewards are always ephemeral and ultimately disappointing.
When things are difficult, there is no joy for the follower of Satan. In the book of Job, one of job’s friends utters some thoughtful words that do not apply to Job, but to mankind generally: “…the exulting of the wicked is short, and the joy of the godless but for a moment?” (Job 20:5 ESV; cf. 20:18). There can be no true, lasting joy apart from God.
The story is told of a Russian countess who accepted the Lord Jesus as her Savior and was open about her testimony. The Tsar was displeased and threw her into prison. After 24 hours with the lowest level of Russian society, in the most miserable conditions imaginable, he ordered her brought into his presence. He smiled sardonically and said, “Well, are you ready now to renounce your silly faith and come back to the pleasures of the court?” To his surprise, the countess smiled serenely and said, “I have known more real joy and more real happiness in one day in prison with Jesus than I have known in a lifetime in the courts of the Tsar.” She found the source of deep joy, that of serving our Master. Jesus!
In Matthew 20: 1-16, one of Christ’s parables is recorded. “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2 Now when he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, 4 and said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. 5 Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did likewise. 6 And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing idle, and said to them, ‘Why have you been standing here idle all day?’ 7 They said to him, ‘Because no one hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right you will receive.’ 8 So when evening had come, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, ‘Call the laborers and give them their wages, beginning with the last to the first.’ 9 And when those came who were hired about the eleventh hour, they each received a denarius. 10 But when the first came, they supposed that they would receive more; and they likewise received each a denarius. 11 And when they had received it, they complained against the landowner, 12 saying, ‘These last men have worked only one hour, and you made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the heat of the day.’ 13 But he answered one of them and said, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14 Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. 15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?’ 16 So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen.”
Although the parable has various levels of meaning, a hidden level often overlooked is the one which reveals that the ones who longest served their Master, Christ, also had the longest time to experience the joy and happiness of serving Him. Therefore, at this level, the long-time servants were greatly rewarded above those who came to Christ late in life. However, all received the ultimate reward, eternal life!
Remember, all of us are God’s children, whom He loves beyond human capacity to understand or experience.
Until next week, may God richly bless you and yours.
Contact: email@example.com; (434) 392-6255; www.guthriememorial.org.
©2016 by Fillmer Hevener