6 Ways We Grow Joy in Our Lives

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Woman standing in field of sunflowers in a white dress and sun hat with arms stretched out.

Did you know there is a distinct difference between joy and happiness?

I believe it is vital, not just good and not just important, but vital for every Christian to understand the difference between joy and happiness and realize that God’s ultimate goal isn’t for us to be happy.

We are commanded to be joyful, but not to be happy.

Many Christians today have bought into the lie that God wants them to be happy, and when they’re not happy that He’ll do everything possible — even violate His own Word — just so they’ll be happy.

However, we do not see this concept anywhere in Scripture.

Yes, Paul says that the Kingdom of Heaven is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. But joy and happiness are not at all the same.

You see, happiness is circumstantial.

When we get a raise at work, when our kid comes home with an A on his math test, when our husband tells us we look beautiful, or when a friend shows up with a gift just because….these things make us happy.

But all it takes is something like a fender-bender during rush-hour at the very time when we’re running late for meeting to burst that bubble of happiness.

Joy, on the other hand, is not tied to circumstances.

Happiness is a bubble, joy is deeply-rooted tree that requires cultivation to grow; but when it is firmly and deeply root cannot be easily shaken by circumstance, rather remains stable in the fiercest of storms.

6 Ways We Grow Joy in Our Lives

In Philippians 2, Paul gives seven commands to the church that will help them grow join their lives. I say commands, because these seven things he lists are not optional, but vital for solid and steady spiritual growth.

Without these, we will falter in our Christian walk and eventually grow cold and distant.

1. Be unified with your local church

Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.

One thing I always remember my dad say when I read the word therefore is “What is that therefore there for?”

We look back to the end of chapter 1 and we read that our conduct must be worthy of the gospel, that the church is unified and working for one common goal – the gospel, not afraid of their enemies, but willing to suffer for Christ.

And now we come to “Therefore…” With that in mind, if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy….what?

Fulfill my joy by being unified.

Now, does this mean that everyone in our church thinks the same, acts the same, does the same, votes the same, and lives the same.

That’s impossible.

Even the most loving, functional family doesn’t have that. Kids grow up, move out, get married, and they raise their kids differently than they were raised. Siblings have differences of opinion and family culture.

That’s normal.

Paul isn’t saying, “You all need to think and act alike”. He’s saying, “Have a common goal to reach as many lost souls with the gospel as you can.”

When we join with a local church, and we lock in with their vision for spreading the gospel, and we give ourselves to that vision and purpose, a deep, God-ordained need is met in us.

A need for a tribe, for joining with others in lock-step toward a common goal.

2. Live with authentic humility

Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.

I find it very interesting that the Greek word for “selfish ambition” can be translated as self esteem.

When we look at the words self esteem at their very barest meaning, it means to esteem yourself. To elevate yourself. This directly contradicts this verse that says we should esteem others better than ourselves.

Not self esteem, others esteem!

James said this, “Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. James 4:1-3

However, we must be careful that we don’t take this to the opposite extreme (which, when boiled down is actually the same thing as pride), and that is that we don’t confuse “lowliness of mind” with thinking of ourselves as “low” or not worthy.

Lowliness of mind is humility of mind, and humility doesn’t mean thinking less of ourselves, but not being preoccupied with ourselves.

Insecurity is pride disguised.

When we esteem others better than ourselves, we are free from the pressure of constantly having to keep our own sense of importance in tact.

We’re free to love and grace others where they are at, help build them up, and equip them to be what God created them to be.

There is nothing more joy-building than that!

3. Invest in those around you

Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

The word “interests” in the KJV is “things” and can be translated as “look out not only for yourself, but for others”.

But once again, we have to examine our motives when we “look out for others”, that we aren’t just virtue signaling but that we are genuinely interested in meeting others needs.

We should routinely ask ourselves, “Can I meet this need with joy anonymously?”

So often, we see people meeting others needs while simultaneously taking a selfie and posting it to social media.

I hate to say it, but this isn’t biblical. Jesus called this pharisaical and commanded that our left hand not know what our right hand is doing.

Give without calling attention to yourself. Meet needs for the sake of being a blessing. This gives the greatest joy!

4. Know who you are in Christ

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

For a long time, I didn’t understand what this verse was saying.

Of course, Jesus was not wrong for considering Himself equal with God. He is God. But what does that have to do with me, and how can I have that same mind?

I’m not God.

Sure, He humbled Himself and took on the body of a man and accepted the death sentence of a criminal, and we should be willing to live as humbly as He did.

I always got the second part, but only recently did I understand the first part.

We can’t live as humbly as Jesus did, until we know who we are. If we try to live with humility without understanding who we are in Christ, we’ll get it wrong!

Jesus knew who He was, so dying as He did wasn’t didn’t threaten His self-worth because His self-worth wasn’t in based in earthly things. He knew who He was, and He didn’t consider it robbery to know He was equal to God.

Do you know who you are?

Ephesians is all about teaching us who we are in Christ. And when we get that, we can live with authentic humility because our self-worth is secure in Christ.

It can’t be threatened by people mocking us for our faith and values. It can’t be shattered by rejection.

There is real freedom and joy when we know who we are in Christ.

5. Work out your own salvation

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.

I want to start by saying that Paul was not saying, in any way, that we strive for our salvation.

If we could somehow earn, or work for, our salvation, it would first make Jesus’ work on the cross completely pointless, but it would make all of Scripture pointless as well.

Paul is saying two things here:

  1. God puts in you the desire to do His will
  2. Therefore, go and do His will with respect and awe for Him and a passion for His glory

You are working out of the well of your own salvation, with that abundant grace that has been given to you by God. So don’t neglect that grace, and don’t neglect doing His will.

When you are in tune with God and His will for your life, and you begin walking in His good pleasure, there is no greater joy!

6. Don’t complain and moan

Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,

This reminds me of a little sign my mom made me years ago: 5 Keys to Contentment. Number 1 is “Never allow yourself to complain about anything – not even the weather”.

I confess, I still mess this up…all of the time.

Especially when it’s 90 degrees out and 40% humidity.

But, this is truly a command of Scripture. “Never allow yourself to complain about anything”. Notice the wording “Never allow yourself…”

Paul is saying exactly the same thing, but without the negative. “Do all things without complaining.”

Both statements tell us that complaining is a choice. And we can both make a choice to complain or not to complain. We can either complain or we can turn the situation around and find God’s blessing in everything.

Later on in this book we read that we are to give thanks in all things.

Notice it says in all things, not for all things. In every situation, we can always find a reason to thank God and turn a negative situation into a praise service!

And notice what he says about this: when we choose to not complain about anything, our light shines brighter in this dark world and we “become blameless and harmless children of God.”

The antithesis is true: our complaining dims our lights as the world finds fault with us and we harm our testimony.

If we want our light to shine brightly, if we want the world to truly see an undistorted picture of God in our lives, we have to make the choice to never allow ourselves to complain about anything.

Not even the weather.


Visit all the posts in my Philippians Bible study below:

Resources:

These are so powerful! Download this collection of verses from Philippians for your war room and begin praying these life-changing verses today!
Join the 30 Day Prayer Challenge for Philippians today! Click here to find out how you can download your copy today! A Little R & R | Rosilind Jukić | Christianity | Christian living | Christian blog | Christian faith | Bible Verse | Philippians | Joy | #joy #philippians #prayer #warroom #warriorprincess #prayerjournaling #Scripture #Christian #Christianliving #spiritual #spiritualgrowth #Bible #God #jesus

Blog Posts:

Study the Book of Philippians With Me

3 Reasons Why We Can Rejoice in Suffering

6 Ways We Grow Joy in Our Lives

We Must Let Go of This to Find True Joy

5 Choices That Teach Us Contentment

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