Joy is the second attitude we see in Acts 2:46 that fostered health in the early church. The word in the verse is translated “gladness” as well as “joy.” Many people are thirsty for happiness. Next to health, happiness is the most sought after experience. However, when we seek happiness by leaning the ladder against the wall of popularity, success, wealth, etc, there comes the shocking realization that none of those things bring deep, constant happiness. Some get caught up in the word “happiness” compared to “joy.” However, instead of focusing on that, let’s focus on what wall we need to lean our ladder!
So, this is going to be challenging and different. Some of you may even think as you read this that I have lost my mind, but please stay with me until the end – you may conclude at that point that you are certain that I have lost my mind. Ha.
The expression, “Leaning your ladder” needs no explanation. We know it implicitly means that you climb up the ranks or you inch toward the goal of reaching the “top.” But real, genuine, lasting, unconditional JOY does not involve a ladder. As a matter of fact, bringing a ladder to this party will ruin it.
That is because the joy God purposed for you to experience is not going to be found at the top of a ladder. It actually does not involve a ladder! Climbing a ladder to reach the joy God offers is impossible. Yet, many Christians are under the false impression that if they achieve a certain status they will be “happy” or experience the “joy of the Lord.” Wrong!
God’s joy is not found in accomplishments but in abiding. Yikes! What is “abiding”? Ooops, I slipped into “preacher mode.” Let me restate it, God’s joy is not found in working to attain something but in resting in what has been attained. Oh my goodness, I did it again. Third times the charm, when I truly accept the fact that I am adopted into God’s family and my position in His family is totally, 100% secure, so much so that I love Him, I experience His joy.
The essence of genuine joy is not in accomplishments. That is work! That means you achieve. The problem is that our achievements don’t really bring long-term joy. Achievements are wonderful – don’t get me wrong! But God has joy rooted in Grace! And one thing you cannot do when grace is involved – you cannot climb a ladder. Grace knocks the legs out from under a ladder. Grace says you have nothing to prove because you are totally loved and accepted. Grace says that you are totally forgiven and do not work for it! When you genuinely embrace that truth, it isn’t that you will become a renegade. Instead, quite the opposite. You experience joy that transcends every failure and accomplishment. It is a joy that is not based on what happens to you or what comes against you! It is a joy based on the finished work of Jesus Christ and you will fall deeper in love with Him and that joy will only grow as you serve others. However, be forewarned, this incredible joy can be snatched from you by either your own legalistic tendencies or the Pharisees around you!
Will you live today in light of the very fact that as a child of God, you are loved with a perfect love that cannot be diminished or deepened by your actions? Will you rest in the fact that you are totally accepted by God and that you don’t have anything to prove?! If so, enjoy the joy that is yours in Christ.