Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Exalt Christ, Experience Joy

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

There are times when I throw up my hands, let out a sigh, and say, “How did Paul do it? How could he remain joyful in all the difficulties he experienced?” It seems to me that next to Jesus, Paul is the greatest example of joy in the Bible, especially as it relates to joy in every circumstance. Isn’t that what he meant when he told the Thessalonian Christ followers to “give thanks [in every circumstance] for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus” [1 Thessalonians 5:18].

After years of thinking about this, I have come to the conclusion that the only way a Christ follower can live joyfully, as Paul did, is to have a goal other than human comfort. May I suggest to you that the greatest goal you can have is the exaltation of Christ. If exalting Christ is your goal, then anything that extends the Gospel will bring you great joy.

Even while Paul languished in a dungeon, he wrote with joy and contentment. His life seemed to bounce back and forth between life-threatening events and difficulties [see 2 Corinthians 11:23-33]. As a matter of fact, it seemed that he was destined for difficulties. Not long after his conversion, the Lord told Ananias to, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” [Acts 9:15-16] 

That’s amazing, in and of itself, in that Paul knew he was going to suffer, and yet he found a cause for rejoicing! Living a life of ease and comfort was not Paul’s main objective. He thrived on the exaltation of Christ. A great example of that is when he wrote to the Philippians while imprisoned. While there, some men in Philippi usurped his apostolic authority. Others preached Christ “out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains.” Listen to his response, “But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.” [See Philippians 1:15-18]. 

Is that your perspective as well? If your goal is that Christ is exalted, whatever happens that furthers that purpose will result in joy!

O LORD, You are my God. I will exalt You, I will praise Your name, for You have done wonderful things; Your counsels of old are faithfulness and truth. Isaiah 25:1

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