I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. – Philippians 1:3-5
Paul is in prison and reveals a major theme of Philippians, joy. Paul often opens his letters to the churches with prayer of thanksgiving, but this you will notice he uses the word joy to describe his prayers for them. The word for joy here is charas, a state of gladness. This word is used throughout the Bible, but we see it used in Proverbs 10:1 to describe the father who has a wise son and better still we see it used when the angels bring the good news of the birth of Jesus in Luke 2:10. This is a joy that you and I cannot manufacture, this is a joy that we choose through relationship. For example, I can wake up each morning and convince myself that I am joyful, and this will last for some time. Eventually, when isolated, I run out of this joy. Our relationship with Jesus is the source of joy and other people are catalysts to the joy as well.
May we be challenged to be catalysts of joy, when someone is a blessing to us, pray for them with joy. Let the people you love know how they bring you so much joy. This is often harder than it sounds. We have so many distractions and deadlines imposed on us or self-imposed that our relationships become links to achievements and desires rather than just being communal. How much we value people is often hidden behind our temperaments or declarations of our personality type. I searched the Bible, far and wide, and looked for a way that I could justify my being an introvert with the gospel…it is nowhere to be found. We are all gifted and uniquely grafted into the Body of Christ, but we cannot have joy choose us. We have to choose joy as much as we have to choose to go to work each day.
How Do I Choose Joy? (Challenge)
- We pray with joy!
It seems “on the nose” here, but there are postures of prayer and joy is definitely one of them. So when we struggle with outward joy, we can begin to walk in it by praying in it. Choose Scriptures to pray that declare the goodness of God or the prayers of Paul that lift up the people he cares about.
- We praise with joy!
I wake up early to run or workout and I choose to start my workout time with praise (music, words of praise, thankfulness, and gratitude). What is your routine for getting ready to start your day? Whatever it is, incorporate praise and do it joyfully.
- We speak with joy!
Let your first words each day to God, family, co-workers, etc., be that of joy. It is hard to be grumpy when you have started your day praying with joy, praising with joy, and then speaking with joy. If one of my kids is up when I am setting out for a run or work, they get my first words of joy for the day. Do people avoid you at the beginning of the day? Do you have to have your first cup of coffee before you can have rational conversations? Make speaking joy a daily practice and joy will become a part of your life.
The truth is, real joy comes from Jesus. We can fake it for awhile, but without the source, we will run empty.