A Portrait of Jesus
How is it that our culture pictures Jesus as being a somber wimpy mamma’s boy? That view is reflected in artistic paintings of the past, and has permeated our culture for hundreds of years. If those same artists of long ago were to paint him today, they would probably portray him as a “Pajama-boy”. That perception of him is a lie, and here’s why. In Galatians 5:22-23, Paul wrote, “22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control . . .” Did you catch that? JOY is a fruit of the Spirit. If joy is a fruit of the Spirit, then how is it that we never think of Jesus as being joyous? Jesus HAD to be full of joy!
The Magnetism of Jesus
A lot of people think that the only reason that people were attracted to Jesus was because of the miraculous signs that he performed. Of course, that had a part in it, but there was a magnetism about him, and that magnetism was the joy of the Lord. Think of how influential he was! Everybody wanted to hang out with Jesus! He had little children coming up to him (Matthew 19:14), . . . grown burly fishermen, (Peter, Andrew, James and John – Matthew 4:18-22), hung out with Jesus. He made friends with tax collectors (Matthew 9:9-13), and prostitutes (Luke 7:36-50). On more than one occasion, he had crowds of people all around him. Let me ask you this. What kind of somber wimpy mamma’s boy has that kind of influence? Would you hang want to hang out with someone like that, or someone who was full of the joy of the Lord? I think the latter.
Jesus or Eyeore
I’m reminded of the time when my two children were little. They loved watching the TV show, ‘The Adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh’. Each episode offered a different adventure of Christopher Robin and his ‘friends”. There was the tiger , also known as “Tigger” who was always full of life and vigor. The kangaroo named, “Kanga” served as the wise Mom, with her little baby, “Roo”. The main character, however, was Winnie-the-Pooh. In each episode, he always managed to find trouble. His best friend was a little pig named, “Piglet”. The final character in this ensemble of friends is the beloved donkey named, “Eeyore”. Eyeore and Tigger were polar opposites. While Tigger was known for being joyous, Eyeore was known for being full of doom and gloom. He complained all the time and always found something negative in everything. Now, be honest, would you rather hang out with Tigger or Eyeore? Which one would leave you with a smile on your face and hope in your heart? That’s exactly what Jesus left people with, a smile of wonder on their face and hope in their heart.
Happiness Verses Joy
Joy is easy to identify. It is exuberant. When a newborn baby arrives, the family is full of joy. Both fiance’s are full of joy when an engagement is announced. A man finds joy after landing a job that he has relentlessly been searching for over the past 8 months. Note that their is a fine distinction between “happiness” and “joy”. Happiness is a state of mind, based on a set of circumstances, whereas joy is birthed from within the heart. We ask people if they are happy, (and what we really mean, is “Are all the circumstances in your life good?”), but we never have to ask if they are joyous because joy is obvious, it bursts onto the scene.
Joy Springs Up From Within The Heart And Exudes Life
Giving joy requires sacrifice on your part. Why? Because you have to intentionally put off any and all attitudes that are not joyous. In other words, you have to die to the flesh. Joy can not share a heart with a complainer or one who is skeptical. It has nothing in common with one who slanders or gossips. Joy does not suck the life out of people, but rather produces life wherever it is found. It advances the Kingdom.
Joy feeds the soul. Jesus knew this joy. He lived it. Now, if joy has the ability to produce life within you, as it did with Jesus, what impact might you have on others as you minister that joy to those in your sphere of influence, just as Jesus did? When you view joy as a ministry, it changes your thinking from being passive to being aggressive. In other words, when you stop thinking of joy as just something that happens to you, but instead, as something that is cultivated from within, you start looking for opportunities to spread that joy. Boisterous influence is at the heart of joy. Because Jesus was full of joy, he gave it freely. As a follower of Jesus, if you reflect Jesus, in some capacity, joy will exude from you and breathe life into others. I encourage you to cultivate your relationship with Jesus. Like a runner who sweats, or a fish that swims, both can’t help but produce water. Similarly, the more you invest in your relationship with Jesus, the more life-giving joy you will produce.