Though right living enhances joy, no person can attain perfect behavior all the time. Joy must be found in a source other than our behavior. When would you be able to rejoice and have great joy if it depended on perfect behavior? Striving toward perfectionism you cannot attain, keep, control, or manage may push you toward losing your joy.
Philippians 4:4 states, “Rejoice in the Lord, always.” Some translations render it as, “Rejoice always.” How many have ever accomplished that? If you are to live Christianity to the fullest, you must rejoice always. This is not a suggestion, it is a command. How can you do that? Can you rejoicing always for seven straight days?
Then why are we commanded to rejoice always?
“let your gentleness be known to all men, the Lord is at hand, be anxious for [some things-no] nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Joy and Prayer
There is a direct connection between rejoicing always and an effective prayer life. Have you ever prayed but you still didn’t feel right? If after you pray about something, the peace of God doesn’t rule your heart and mind, then something is off target. Maybe you are praying for the wrong thing, or it could be that there were some issues in your own heart and mind that you needed to get straight between you and God first. God knows your heart and mind. If your spirit is not right, and you pray about something, you will not have peace.
One of the ways that God gets the believer’s attention is to let him be miserable about his wrongdoing. That is a safeguard He has given to protect you. What would it be like if you could do wrong things and feel good about it? Your relationship with God would plummet downward because you would have no accountability. Rejoicing depends upon what your spirit is like at the time.
For example, if a vacation makes you feel good about yourself but you don’t feel good and happy when you are not on vacation, then about 50 weeks out of the year you will be miserable. Why? Because you are depending on that situation or place to make you happy.
Rejoicing cannot be accomplished by your human ability. To rejoice always is to stay in a state of mind of walking in the Spirit so that you will not fulfill the desires of the flesh. As you walk in the Spirit more, you begin to experience Christ living in you. When a believer experiences Christ doing things through his life that cannot be explained by human activity, it brings great joy.
But, perfect behavior is impossible for even the most godly of Christians. Though Jesus said in Matthew 5:48, “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect,” the idea is to strive toward perfection. Some days will be better than others but you will never be perfect until you go to heaven. Because you will never be perfect on earth, you need to understand that joy is available to even those who are imperfect. But, you must discern if you are imperfect yet striving toward perfection, or, imperfect because you are willingly rebellious.
You can walk in joy in spite of imperfect behavior either in you or from others. If it is your imperfect behavior, you are just a repentant prayer away from being back in fellowship with God and experiencing His joy. If it the imperfect behavior of others, understand that just because they are in a mess doesn’t mean that you have to be. Joy depends on knowing Jesus Christ and your Lord and Savior, not on being around others who are perfect.
Copyright © 2013 by Kerry L. Skinner