Joyful Resolution

Do you ever feel like you are doing all the “right things” as a believer yet you still lack joy in your life? We are studying the book of Philippians in church right now, and one of the great themes of the book is joy. Our pastor was encouraging and admonishing us yesterday to examine our lives and see if we are looking for joy and satisfaction in our own “righteous” acts, or if we are truly finding the fullness of joy in Christ himself. He challenged us to ask ourselves this question:

What things, apart from Christ, are you currently counting as your own personal righteousness?

This is such a vital question for us to ask ourselves frequently, especially as strong believers and those in Christian work. Is it the fact that you are a missionary? Is it the fact that you are leading Bible studies or are really great at studying the word deeply and consistently? Is it all of the great activities that you do for your children? Is it your skill at hospitality? Is it your ability to navigate and thrive in a foreign culture? Is it all of the things that you do to help others?  Of course each of these things are great things when done out of the right motivation and for the glory of God, but the truth is that as soon as they are done for our own glory, they cease to please God and cease to bring us joy. And we all know, despite whether or not we want to admit it, how easy it is to sneak in and try to take the glory for ourselves. Strange, isn’t it, that the more we try to please ourselves, the less joy we receive, yet when we strive to love and please our Lord authentically, His gift to us is joy.

I was planning on writing a post on New Year’s resolutions today and had it all prepped and ready to go, but I was very convicted after hearing this message yesterday morning. I realized that in my resolutions, though there were some good motives for sure, there was also a desire to earn my own righteousness. Between the lines read something like, “If I can only get better at this and this, then I will be a good missionary/mom/wife and God will be happier with me…” God of course will be pleased as I progress in these areas, but only as I seek Him first, and not those things first as if to prove something to Him. I am going to revamp my New Year’s resolutions and boil it down to one resolution. I desire to seek God faithfully and ask Him to help me find fullness of joy in Him alone. From there I hope and pray and trust that He will grow me in the other areas that are lacking as I respond to His Spirit through conviction and leading and taking joy in serving Him, but I am thankful for yesterday’s message that reminded me of how easily I can step toward that desire to try to earn righteousness backwards by attempting to start with works.

So, for today’s question for thought, what things are in actuality “loss” in your life compared to the “surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus [your] Lord” that you are tempted to hold onto as your own personal righteousness? Are you currently looking for joy in things apart from Christ? Are there things that should bring joy that have lost their joyfulness that you might need to bring before Christ? Let’s pray for one another in this!

“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” -Philippians 3:8

(And as a quick and perhaps unnecessary disclaimer, by sharing my thoughts today I am in no way saying that I think New Year’s resolutions are bad. I was just realizing that my own resolutions need a bit of revisiting. Just thought I should say that because I am sure that many of you have made some very wonderful resolutions that God is very pleased with!)

(Post by: Ashley)


3 Responses to “Joyful Resolution”

  1. 1 kim January 4, 2010 at 11:11 pm

    This is such an encouraging post, Ashley! Thanks for sharing. It reminded me of John 15 where he is talking about the vine and the branches and abiding in Christ. Verse 11 ends with, “These things I have spoken to you that my joy may be in you, and that you joy may be full.”

    Miss you dearly…

  2. 2 Shilo January 5, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    Thanks for your honesty, Ashley and your tender heart to the Lord. I have sat down several times to see what He has for me this year and so far, I’ve heard REST. So that’s my goal…to understand what it means to know HIS REST and live in it.

  3. 3 Jami Gustafson January 6, 2010 at 9:46 am

    Thanks, Ashley! I find that I haven’t been accessing God’s joy lately. I’ve been focusing on the temporal (like how cold I am all the time) and have been grumbling and complaining. Only through Christ can we experience that true contentment and radiate His joy!

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