18 October 2012

Can Joy be a Duty?

    Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; 
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ESV)
First, we must say that joy is part of your duty. The Bible says, “Rejoice always” (1 Thess. 5:16). And in regard to the duty of giving, it says, “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7). In regard to the duty of service, it says, “Serve the Lord with gladness” (Ps. 100:2). In regard to the duty of mercy, it says do it “with cheerfulness” (Rom. 12:8). In regard to the duty of afflictions, it says, “Count it all joy” (James 1:2). We simply water down the divine command when we call someone to half their duty. 

The second thing we must say when we tell a disconsolate person to “do their job” is that while they do their job, they should probably be repenting and confessing the sin of gloomy faith. I say “probably” because even in cases where the main cause is physical, there is probably some element of sinful pride or self-pity mingled with it. I am aware that this may sound like an added burden to the one who is in spiritual darkness. But it is not an added burden. If it is a burden at all, it is already there and not added by calling it what it is. Failing to rejoice in God when we are commanded to rejoice is sin.*

This is so very powerful. How often to do we languish in our sadness exchanging joy for self pity. I'm not making light of the difficult Providences that come our way - not at all. Yet we do have joy in Christ; it is there, it can be embraced and it will change our hearts. Stand firm and start rejoicing and strive to leave that gloomy faith behind.

*Piper, John (2006-12-14). When the Darkness Will not Lift: Doing What We Can While We Wait for God - and Joy (Kindle Locations 454-455). Good News Publishers/Crossway Books. Kindle Edition.

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