The Submissive Mind - Cont'd.
We have been looking at these verses in light of how we can experience joy
in our life. But in this section, we have seen verses that are some of the
most important found in the New Testament, when it comes to understanding
just who Christ is.
People can steal our joy, but it is only because we allow them to. And really,
people can only steal our joy if we are living for our own happiness and
comfort. If we are living for self, then certainly the behavior of others
will interfere with our desires for ourselves.
If Paul had been not only concerned with the giving out of the gospel, but
with his own reputation and glory in that work, then it would be understandable
why those who were preaching with the intent of making him look bad, would
get to him. But clearly his concern was only with the giving of the word.
His emotional well-being wasnt based on the motives or actions of others.
Their behavior couldnt steal his joy. On the contrary, their efforts
at disseminating the word were one of the sources of his joy.
With circumstances, the key to maintaining joy is a singularity of focus
on Christ and his call to action. With people, the key to maintaining joy
is humility as modeled by Christ. As we put Him first, and then the needs
of others ahead of our own, then the acts of others will not be as likely
to affect us. It is our own selfishness that is the basis for our loss of
joy as a result of the acts of others. As Andrew Murray put it,
"The humble person is not one who thinks meanly of himself; he simply
does not think of himself at all!" 4
Christs call is a call to service. It is a call to serve others even,
if God requires to it to our own detriment. How can this be? Well again
look at our example. Jesus was willing to serve us, even at the cost of His
own life. How can we do any less? Now notice Im not talking of
self-destructive, self-motivated suffering. Im speaking of living for
others as the Lord leads.
One of the reasons we have such a difficulty experiencing joy, then, is because
we have never really learned to maintain a consistent focus on the Lord and
to really have an accurate self-image. I constantly fall into the trap of
believing I really have it together, and try to live out of my own strength.
But praise the Lord, He loves us and gives us the opportunity to continue
to grow in our relationship, and therefore grow in our dependency on Him.
And He doesnt leave us out here helpless to conform to His will, but
provides His Spirit to guide and empower us.
And so we will experience true joy as we become more Christ like. Let us
then pray that the Lord will show us how we have fallen into the trap of
putting ourselves first, so that we can truly put Number One first, the Lord,
and then we will rise above circumstances and people.