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Motivated By Joy

Mark 2:18, “ Now John's disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. And people came and said to him, “Why do John's disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?”

I recently had a group of students tell me something they do that they like to do and something they do that they do not like to do. Among the things they liked to do were hanging out with friends and playing golf. On the other hand, doing the dishes was mentioned as one of the things they do not like to do. Obviously, there are things in all our lives that we like to do and there are things that we do but we do not like to do them. What makes the difference between us enjoying something or enduring something? The answer is simple. The things we like to do we like. We enjoy them. We might even say we love them. We love to golf, play baseball, spend time with family, or hang out with friends. On the other hand, if we have to do something we do not like we simply do not like that task. We do not enjoy the task. We certainly do not love the task. I share this interaction with students to help us see the difference between a person who is religious and a person who has been saved by Jesus. A religious person may go to church, look the part, force themselves to read a Bible but they have no joy in the effort. However, a person who has a relationship with Jesus will live out the Christian life from a position of joy and gratitude. Living as a Christian comes from a heart of joy. There is joy because of what Jesus has done. However, there are others who live out a form of Christianity but because it is just a form of Christianity there is really no joy motivating their efforts. Jesus was asked by the Pharisees why His disciples did not fast. To the Pharisees fasting was a religious requirement. But, there was no joy in their lives. They were more concerned about fasting, that is performing their religious requirement, then they were about spending time with Jesus who was right in front of them. David Garland explained, “Christian spirituality is not a ball and chain that keeps the spirit from soaring. The exultation over the coming of the One who forgives sins and feast with sinners and the glad expectation of the glory to come is to affect our mood and outlook on life.” Do you possess real joy? I am not talking about manufactured emotion or joy produced by entertainment and recreation. I am not talking about a joy that comes from the experience we feel when life is going well. The joy I am talking about is a deep seated joy that comes from the heart of one whose soul has found peace in a relationship with Jesus. This kind of joy is what David referenced in Psalm 32:1 (NLT) “Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight!”



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