Monday, December 23, 2013

Happiness or Joy?
     The media here in our area is continually broadcasting appeals to people to help others have a "happy" Christmas season.  Obviously, by "happy" they mean a Christmas filled with toys for children, food for the family, and other gifts. 
     I am certainly no scrooge when it comes to giving.  We never pass one of the kettles outside our grocery store or any other store but we reach for folding money.  My wife has reminded all of our family that because God is providing food for us, we ought to share with others.  In addition, our local church is providing food for many during this time of the year and we have shared in that ministry.
     As I think on the society's search for happiness, however, I am reminded that the real word used in Scripture is not happiness but joy.   I've often remarked that "happiness depends on what happens but joy depends on Jesus."
     The apostle Paul includes joy as one of the "fruits of the Spirit" in Galatians 5.  The Old Testament writer reminds us that "...the joy of the Lord is our strength."  Happenings come and go.  Some are good and some are unpleasant but what Jesus gives us when we come to Him in faith is not only forgiveness of sins but the very indwelling of His Spirit.  The result of the Spirit's work in us is, among other things, joy.
     This is a good time in our lives to be reflecting on the things that matter most.  One of our granddaughters remarked recently that little children often open a package, look at the new toy, and then play with the box in which it had been wrapped.  I remember our sons having more fun with a cardboard and wood-framed box that a home freezer came in than anything we could have spent money on that year. 
     Let's commit ourselves to discernment between happiness and joy.  One comes and goes.  What Jesus gives (real joy) never leaves.   Have a JOYFUL Christmas.

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