1 Peter 4:1-11
“Each of you should use whatever gifts you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” (1 Peter 4:10)
We look for happiness in all kinds of things, don’t we? From things that bring us pleasure... to positions we think will satisfy our egos... some even strive for power or authority... for prestige... maybe a corner office... or a notable address... or a vacation home... in the hopes of finding something that will bring happiness, joy, fulfillment... into our lives. We all, to varying degrees, experience that same “itch” that needs to be “scratched” - the need for happiness, and joy.
Of course, we can certainly find a type of happiness in all those things, for sure. And such things, in and of themselves, are not bad... nor are they unwholesome... or evil... for heaven’s sake.
The problem is... none of those things (or countless other things) alone can bring what we seek. Things won’t bring permanent, lasting joy into our lives. No amount of success, no certain salary, or status. It’s all fleeting. It’s all temporary.
Even our health and our relationships are temporary.
I’ve watched so many people, through the years, as their health gradually (or suddenly) declined and they lost the ability to do so many of the things that brought joy and happiness into their life.
Tammy and I, have been married for almost 31-years... but it won’t last forever. Our marriage vows made that clear way back in 1989... when we promised to be faithful “until death do us part.”
That’s not meant to be depressing... it’s just meant to stress the fact, that NOTHING in this life is forever.
Everything, this side of heaven, is temporary.
Permanent, ongoing, lasting, joy... therefore, has to be found somewhere else.
Because happiness (true, lasting joy) only comes when you and I give our lives away in service to the One who is eternal... to the God who had no beginning, and has no end. We find true joy in Christ, and in giving our lives to Christ.
God created us to give our life away. Why?
Because God wants you to be like him. He wants our lives to be reflections of His goodness, and love, and grace and forgiveness. And you & I cannot reflect those things, without being filled with joy and happiness! A joy and happiness that comes NOT from the things of this world... but from God himself!
The Joy of the Lord is our strength!
Most people seem unaware of this... but there are a couple of surefire secrets to joy. Of course, they’re really not secrets at all... because they’re laid out for us in God’s Word...
First, in order to know real joy, we have get our minds off of ourselves. Self-centeredness is a kill-joy!
The more you and I focus on ourselves, the more miserable we eventually become. To find real joy, you must shift from an inward focus - from “It’s all about me” - to an outward focus - “It’s all about God and serving others.” Jesus said as much himself when he told us, that if we want to “live-out” the covenant relationship of God, then we have to love God with all our heart, mind and strength, and... we have to love others at least as much as we love ourselves.
Our scripture from Philippians (2:3) further defines our calling to, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” And it goes on to tell us, that we should have the same “mind-set” (the same attitude) as Christ himself!
Of course, such an attitude is not only BIBLICAL... but it’s about as counter-cultural as you can get! If you want to be a real rebel... take a break from narcissism! Step away from “me, myself and I” and you’ll find just how rare and precious such people are.
Our society bombards us with the worldly ideology that it’s all about us... it’s all about me, and my wants, and my desires, and my needs!
But the Bible says, “whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Christ’s sake and for the gospel will save it” (Mark 8:35).
The truth is, the most helpful people - the most caring people - the most compassionate people - are quite often the happiest people.
The Second way to find joy... is to actually use your gifts to help others. It feels good when you and I actually put “hands and feet to faith” and use our gifts to help others.
God’s Word reminds us that, “God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another” (1 Peter 4:10 NLT).
God has blessed you - and he has blessed me - with talents, abilities, resources - that he expects us to use in blessing others. Because, when we do... when you and I bless others, God will bless us.
If you’re struggling through a lack of joy in your life, try adjusting your attitude to aline with the nature of Jesus. Think of the needs of others first. And then, use the giftings and graces God has given you, to bless others.
I dare you to try it... and to watch God fill your life with his joy, and happiness.