fruit of the spirit

No Limits

“My beloved ones, don’t ever limit your joy or fail to rejoice in the wonderful experience of knowing our Lord Jesus!” (Philippians 3:1)

Limitations are good in some circumstances. For example, I limit my number of 72% dark chocolate squares to four per day (don’t judge me). But when it comes to joy, I’ll take all I can get.

Joy is one thing we don’t want to limit. For followers of Jesus, the joy available to us is limitless.

Apathy and distraction continuously tug at us to focus on our lives instead of God. We may think more about our dinner than about our deliverance, more about our hair than our hope.

When we think more about our day-to-day lives than Jesus, we find ourselves feeling happy when things are good, and miserable when things are bad. Friend, that’s not the joy of the Lord. That’s just happiness. Don’t settle for happiness when God offers us joy.

To experience unlimited joy, we must be proactive. We must actively pray and actively focus on the goodness of Jesus. We must not forget that our joy comes from him.

Any of us can become dull to the Lord. If left to our own devices, we all would veer toward spiritual apathy. Joy does not cohabitate with apathy.  Joy requires commitment and action.

Remember, when we maintain joy in the midst of troubles, we shine God’s light into the darkness. For a long time, it seemed that one room in my house was especially dark. I blamed it on the light fixture, but I finally figured out I had turned the dimmer switch way down. The light couldn’t get through. Maybe that’s true in our world today. Perhaps the world isn’t as dark as it looks. Perhaps we’ve allowed our lights to dim.

Our world has a serious joy deficiency. Everywhere we look we see negativity, fear, and darkness. The joy of the Lord is meant to shine brightly into the darkness and show the world what it means to be filled with incredible joy in spite of calamitous troubles. The joy of the Lord shines brightest in the darkest of times.

If we ever wonder what our purpose is, or why we’re on this earth, we can just think of all the people who need some joy, and all the darkness that screams for the light. C. S. Lewis said, “Here is a joy that cannot be shaken. Our light can swallow up your darkness, but your darkness cannot now infect our light.” The world desperately needs what we carry within us—the unlimited joy and light of a loving God.

Dear God, when I look at the world around me, I wonder if I can make any difference in the darkness. Remind me that I carry your joy and your light within me. Help me be an example of joy in a world filled with despair. I want to show everyone I meet what it means to be filled to overflowing with the joy of the Lord. In Jesus’s name, amen.

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