Picking up from our last post on JOY -
The keys to a life of joy that we've looked at so far:
Commitment to joy (accept personal responsibility) Consecration of self (stop sinning) Consideration of others (it's not all about you)
What about when difficult people block the joy in our lives? We all have "those people" in our lives - people who annoy us, disappoint us, make us mad, and hurt us. Short of praying for them to be somehow eliminated :), what can we do?
It's tempting to think we can find our joy in people, isn't it? That is where the problem begins. While it is true that people can be a source of delight (Philippians 1:4/4:1) and our joy is a way to bless and encourage others (Philippians 2:17,18), we cannot cannot cannot depend on others to supply our joy.
That dependence leads to expectation and that is an inevitable prescription for disappointment. Inevitable. Give anyone enough time and he/she will surely disappoint. And joy is stolen.
Lest we think this is a 21st century problem, look at Philippians 1:17 - The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. - Even the Apostle Paul had people trying to ruin his day!
And in Philippians 4:2 we see that he experienced the pain of conflict between people he loved- I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.
Yet Paul did not let these people block his joy - how did he do that?
Obviously he knew that Christ and Christ alone was the source of unfailing joy. But even in that, he derived joy from other people. What made the difference?
The key Paul had - and what he shares with us - is
Conduct of humility
This is first seen in Philippians 2:5-8 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Humility towards others. Having no expectations that others owed him anything. No demands. Just humility towards others and obedience towards God. Just like Jesus.
When our joy comes from Jesus, that keeps us from expecting (demanding) it from others. And if others should happen to pour some joy onto us, well, then it just splashes out of our already full cup...and into the lives of others.
But there is more description of this humility. No only that it does not expect others owe it anything. Philippians 4:5 explains to us how to respond when people let us down, hurt us, mistreat us... Let your forbearing spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.
Forbearing is not a word that I use alot - didn't really know what it meant. So I looked it up. Pretty helpful definition - "patient when wronged".
Patient? Not retaliatory? Not wounded? Not angry? Not insulted? Not victimized? Not cynical???? Patient????
How can we be patient?
Because "The Lord is near".
Near in our troubles - a very present help, the psalmist tells us. Near in our pain - bearing our pain and carrying our sorrows. Near in our failures - sympathizing with our weaknesses. Near to us with His transforming power - using the things that hurt to work for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.
And near to return - coming quickly and bringing His reward to us, to render to every one according to what he has done.
He is near.
And we can be patient and humble towards others when they do things that threaten our joy because we, too, are flawed and marred and in need of great mercy.
Conduct of humility - sustains our joy.