You've probably heard it in Sunday school, sermons at church, Christian radio, and see it at least once a week in a forwarded email message covered with dancing smiley faces from that one friend that forwards EVERYTHING.
I don't care how many times I've heard it, I still need to be reminded daily.
Try this little experiment with me: Think about the last time you were in a bad mood. Now write down exactly why you were so grumpy in just a few sentences. Count the number of times you used the words "me", "myself" and "I". Now count the number of times you referenced Christ or someone else (other than to blame them for the reason you are so grumpy). If you are like me, your first number is in the double digits and your second number is zero. Where are we putting our focus?
Jesus first. Others second. Yourself last. The key to being joyful despite our circumstances is to keep our focus on God and others and less on ourselves. Keeping this acronym in mind during the day actually works! And do you know why? Because Jesus is the one who came up with it!
Matthew 22 talks about a group of Pharisees who wanted to put Jesus to the test. They asked Him what was the greatest commandment. Instead of replying with one of the 10 commandments they were familiar with, He gave them these 2:
- "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind." (v.37)
- "Love your neighbor as yourself." (v.38)
This is not a hard concept to understand, yet it is so hard for us to get over ourselves enough to actually put it into practice. Here are some simple things we can do to remind ourselves to have JOY:
- Write it down and tape it up to the bathroom mirror... "JOY"
- Get a good Christian friend or accountability partner to be a constant reminder.
- Memorize 1 Thessalonians 5:16..."Be joyful always."
- Pray and thank God for all His blessings.
- Spend less time complaining about our needs and more time meeting the needs of those around us.
Let's work on this together and be joyful followers of Christ!