JOY THROUGH OBEDIENCE
The definition of joy is “a feeling of great pleasure and happiness that does not necessarily rely on our circumstances. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit that the Lord expects us to cultivate. (Gal.5:22-23) True joy stems from our relationship with the Father and the Son. “…and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.” (I John 1:3-4)
For the purpose of this study we are going to use John 15:9-11 as our text. Jesus specifically talks about the subject of joy and His desire for us to have His joy in us.
9 “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. 10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Fathers commandments, and abide in His love. 11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.”
First of all, Jesus is our perfect example of obedience and uses Himself as an example to us. He does not expect something from us that He was not already willing to do. By using Himself as an example, He commands us to “..continue ye in my love.” This phrase is written in a command form and shows us that it is something that He wants us to obey. The word continue means “to keep on being or doing” The word love means “a deep and tender feeling of fondness and devotion” Jesus commands us to continue loving others in the same way He has loved us. “A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” (John 13:34) Once again, Jesus uses Himself and the way He has loved us as the example of how we should love others. It is a command that is to be obeyed! This brings us to a question- How has Christ loved us? For the sake of time, we will mention just a few ways He has demonstrated His love toward us. He has loved us sacrificially (died on the cross for our sins), unconditionally,(without expecting anything in return), even when we were His enemies (even when we were unsaved and enemies of God He died for us) and at times when we are unloveable, (the times that we are disobedient and rebellious). If these are the ways that He has loved us, how does He expect us to love others? Sacrificially, ( by giving up our wants and desires and perhaps even our homeland to go and tell others about Him).Unconditionally,(by witnessing to others and not expecting anything in return). Loving our enemies, (it is easy to love those that return our love. The true test of love is to love those that do not love us back or seek to do us harm). Love the unlovely, (loving others even when their attitudes are not very lovely or loving).
What is the secret of being able to love others as Christ loved us? We find the answer in verse 10 of our text. “If ye shall keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love, even as I have kept my Fathers commandments and abide in his love.” Once again, Christ uses Himself as our perfect example by showing us that just as He needed to abide in His Father to complete His Fathers commands, so we must learn to abide in Him to be able to obey His command to us to love others as He did. The word abide means “continue without fading or being lost” The word abide is a connecting word. It is something that we are connected to, to be able to draw an unfading strength from or to keep us from getting lost. John 15 teaches us about being Christ being the vine and we are the branches. As long as we are connected to the vine, we will continue to abide in the nourishment spiritually that we need to complete Gods will for our lives. What are some practical ways that we can abide in Christ? Bible reading, Bible memorization (not just on a piece of paper, but on 3×5 cards strategically placed around the house), prayer, church attendance (EVERY service), good books, sermon library found on our website, good music, and challenging, spiritual friends. A couple of other ways to abide in Christ is found in I Samuel 12:23, 24 “Only fear the LORD, and serve Him in truth with all your heart: for consider how great things He hath done for you.” By serving Him we learn to abide in Him and depend upon Him. By considering or rehearsing all that He has done for us, we learn to trust Him more and to stay close by Him. By practicing these things in our lives, we will be abiding in the love of Christ and it will become easier to have the right attitude towards keeping the Fathers commandments or in other words obedience.
The word obedience means “complying( act in accordance with a wish or command) or willing to comply with an order or request; submissive to anothers authority”. “And Samuel said, hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.” What do we teach our children about the attitude of true obedience? The request must be done immediately, sweetly, and exactly as the command was given. What about us? Do we obey immediately or when we get around to it? Do we obey sweetly or do we complain about how many other things we have to do? Do we do exactly what we were told to do or do we change the commands around to what we think would be best?
The result of abiding in Christ will produce in us a love for others as well as the ability to be obedient to the commands of Christ. Being obedient to God and loving others brought joy to Christ. He offers us that same joy. The joy of Christ is a joy that does not depend on our circumstances but how we can react to our circumstances. Again, Christ is our greatest example. “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2) Even while suffering on the cross, Christ had true joy because He knew that He was being obedient to His Fathers commands, and that through His sacrifice He was providing a way of salvation to all mankind. This is the joy that Christ offers to all of us and that He spoke of in verse 11 of our text. “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” The word full means “containing or holding as much or as many as possible, having no empty space”. What a wonderful promise we have from Christ that His joy has no empty spaces!! It can completely engulf us during any time or trial in our lives. The word remain means “continue to exist, especially after other similar or related people or things have ceased to exist”. This world can only offer a superficial joy because nothing in this world lasts or goes on existing. But Christ offers us an everlasting joy because the joy He offers is wrapped up in Him, and He never changes or ceases to exist!!
In closing, we have learned that true, biblical joy is produced only when we have followed Christs example of loving others by abiding in His love, and by being obedient to His commands as Christ was obedient to His Fathers commands.