by Rick Warren
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” (Philippians 4:6 NLT)
You have a fundamental need for joy in your life. Life without joy is overwhelming, overburdened, and oppressive. Studies have actually shown that the more joy we have in our lives, the more productive we are. I read an article in “US News and World Report” that said that corporations hire “joy consultants” to build up the joy in peoples’ lives so that employees can be more productive. It is true that you have more energy, more creativity, and more productivity when you have joy in your life.
In the short book of Philippians — only four chapters long — Paul uses the word “joy” 16 times. The amazing thing is, Paul didn’t write this book when he was on vacation in the Caribbean. He was in prison in Rome, waiting to be executed. In the darkest days of his life, he wrote the most positive book in the Bible.
In Philippians, Paul gives us six joy-builders that will help diffuse our discouragement and lift our depression. To make them easy to remember, I’ve made them into an acrostic — JOYFUL. Today, we’ll look at the first three.
J: Jettison all regrets about your past.
“Jettison” means “to abandon as worthless, to discard, to eliminate, to get rid of.” Paul says if you want to enjoy life, there are some things you’ve got to get rid of because they are wearing you down and overburdening your life. The Bible says to forget your regrets, because that’s what God does — he chooses to forgive your mistakes once they’re confessed. The starting point of joy is letting go of the past. Philippians 3:13 says, “One thing I do is to forget what is behind me and do my best to reach what is ahead” (GN).
O: Omit all worries about your future.
If you’re going to enjoy the present, you must omit all worries about your future. Worry, hands-down, is the greatest killjoy of them all. You cannot be joyful and worried at the same time. Paul’s antidotes are these verses: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done” (Philippians 4:6 NLT). You can either worry or you can pray.
Y: Yield yourself to God’s purpose.
If you’re just drifting, if you don’t know where you came from or where you’re going or why you’re here, of course you’re not going to have any joy in your life. We all need a cause greater than ourselves for which we live. That is what brings us joy. Living for yourself does not bring joy.
Even when Paul had literally lost everything, there was one thing that could not be taken away from him — his purpose in life. Paul says in Philippians 1:21, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (NIV).
If you want to have a joy-filled life, you need to get in line with God’s purpose for your life. When you begin to live the purpose for which you are made, life makes sense, and joy is a lot more easily found.
Talk It Over
- What are the things — people, circumstances, situations, or feelings — that are wearing you down and keeping you from living a joyful life?
- What is the difference in happiness and joy?
- What are you worried about? What do you need to do to release your worry?