THE WHOLEHEARTED LEADER
PILLAR 4: Holiness of Character
Joy is an Anchor
“. . . even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him
and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy. (1 Peter 1:8)
The Bible says the kingdom of God is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17). If joy is one-third of the kingdom, we ought to be the happiest people on the planet! That’s why I’d like to highlight joy as the ninth characteristic of growing in the character of Christ.
When we’re wholehearted, what do we release?
When we are in right standing before God, we are wholehearted. And when we’re wholehearted, we can release peace and joy! Just like we can be atmosphere shifters with peace, we can also release joy into our environment.
We are required to have joy and peace as human beings. We were made for it. God wired our brains to seek out joy and peace. What the enemy will do is try to send us on a false path to joy or peace, but we want to receive the real thing.
What do we consider pure joy?
James 1:2-3 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”
Well, suffering doesn’t sound like a joyful experience. How can we consider it “pure joy?” This goes back to embracing suffering, because we see to the other side – we see the end result: perseverance, character, and hope (Romans 5:4). The perseverance we learn through suffering makes us mature and complete, not lacking anything (James 1:4). A complete heart has joy inexpressible; a whole heart is full of joy!
How do we persevere through suffering?
We don’t have to like the suffering, but we can persevere through it if we can recognize that there is purpose in the suffering.
Listen! Satan was created. He was never equal to God. He was created to serve the purposes of God as an archangel. Even now, despite his best efforts, whatever the enemy intends for evil, God will use for our good, if we’ll let God do that. It does not mean that it was God’s idea. Father filtered – yes. But it was not God’s idea.
The enemy is going to come, seeking whom he may devour. He’s roaming to and fro. He comes to kill, steal, and destroy. We have an enemy. So, we resist the devil, but even in the struggle we can be joyful, because we know what it is going to produce in us. Not only does the devil flee when we resist him – and that is so emboldening – that alone can make us laugh in triumph. But also, as we persevere through the trials, God produces character and hope in us. Thus, we can consider it pure joy!
How does laughter help?
One of the things I like to do is laugh – at the lies of the enemy. You might not feel like laughing. Sometimes, it’s almost ridiculous. Have you ever been through attack after attack after attack? Had one negative thing after another negative thing after another negative thing? It comes in like a flood, right? When you’re going through situations and seasons like that, it is so important to remember to laugh. Just laugh at it!
As a worship leader, there are times when we have what I call “Gremlins” in the sound system. No one has touched the sound booth, we’ve all done everything at rehearsal, and suddenly, something happens, and everything goes awry. We have a little bit of warfare going on.
And I just laugh! I’ve had to surrender myself to being in charge of everything. I’m like, “Oh! This is going to be a good day!” Why? Because the enemy’s fighting really hard. And now we know that worship is going to be amazing! It’s going to be better than I originally planned it, because there’s something happening in the atmosphere right now that trying to flip it all on its head. So, I laugh.
When do we see joy on the other side?
When you can see past the suffering, past the trial, past the situation, you can see the joy on the other side.
Jesus modeled it. “For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross.” (Hebrews 12:2) The cross was not fun. But He endured it because of the joy set before Him – with the ability to say that He had finished the assignment that the Father gave Him, so that we could all be family.
We consider it joy when we encounter trials of many kinds, the testing and persevering of our faith, because it will develop the quality of joy in our lives.
How is joy an anchor?
We want to embrace joy; we want to pursue joy. We want authentic joy. It’s not just the happiness that comes and goes and is dependent on circumstances. Joy is an anchor. It helps us ride out storms; joy keeps our hearts from drifting. Joy is something nobody can steal from you unless you let them. And to cultivate joy, we must learn how to laugh.
Steve Backlund has a book, Let’s Just Laugh at That! He walks through several kinds of lies that the enemy will use and exposes these falsehoods and reveals the truth that frees us and infuses us with joy. For instance, if you’re struggling with finances and you’re in lack, you can laugh at lack. Because ultimately, in Jesus, we have power over lack, so we can laugh at it and declare that lack is the loser. We can change reality with our declarations.
One of the things we used to do at our church when it was time for the offering was, we would throw in our offering, and we would laugh! Ha! Ha! Ha! God loves a cheerful giver! It might start out as a fake laugh, but real laughter quickly takes over because laughter is contagious!
How do we stir up joy?
Joy is something you can bubble up within you. You’ve got to stir it up! It’s in you. The Holy Spirit is within you. Joy is a quality and a characteristic of Christ in you. You have the hope of glory – a confident expectation of His very power and presence in your life!
We stir up joy when we start speaking the Word of God over ourselves and our circumstances. When we give the Holy Spirit free rein and see things from God’s perspective and not our own, joy bubbles up inside. This is how we renew our minds.
So, pursue joy. The joy of the Lord is our strength! There’s absolute joy in His presence, so pursuing His presence is pursuing joy.
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