Yesterday, we talked about Christmas joy - the message of "good news of great joy for all the people." Yes, joy is God's will for your life ... all because of Jesus.
But, we have an enemy!
Jesus made this very clear ...
John 10:10. “The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy but I have come that they might have life and have it to the full.”
God wants us to experience an abundant life characterised by an inner joy and peace, despite our circumstances. But we have an enemy who comes to take away our joy anyway he can. We need to be aware of how he does this and be on guard so that we can maintain our joy each day.
Have you ever been robbed? I have. It's an eerie experience. We came home one night to discover someone had broken in the back door of our house and stolen a bunch of things. Notice that the thief comes at night and when we are least expecting them. In the same way, our enemy seeks to rob us of our joy in ways we often don't expect. Let's look at four subtle joy robbers today:
Irritations are things that agitate us (ruffle our feathers, get under our skin), causing frustrated and angry emotions. An irritation is something that exasperates, aggravate or stirs us to anger. When this anger is expressed, it scatters all joy. There are three major sources of irritations:
- People - people's personality traits and idiosyncrasies are an ever-present source of potential irritation. It could be a family member (husband, wife, children), a work-mate, a neighbour, a church member, annoying drivers, or even someone at the shopping checkout.
- Our environment or circumstances. It could be simple inconveniences, such as the weather, the traffic, a squeaky door, or a flat tyre or battery.
- Yourself. We can be irritated by our own sickness, deficiencies, weaknesses, or mistakes.
Irritations rob us of our joy. In fact, it is impossible to be irritated and joyful at the same time!
To worry means to fret, be anxious or be concerned. Worry brings a burden, a load, a strain and tension into our life. Worry can come from many sources, including finances, relationships, or the future.
Worry robs us of our joy. It is impossible to worry and be joyful at the same time.
3. Negativity. Negativity means to murmur or complain, to grumble or to “nit pick”. It often results in words that affect the atmosphere around us and push away our joy. We awfulise things out of proportion, distorting reality. We turn molehills into mountains. We see the jar as half empty rather than half full. We focus on what is wrong with a situation or person rather than what is right.
Negativity robs us of our joy. It is impossible to be negative and joyful at the same time.
When we are hurt, we have been wounded which results in pain, a broken heart or grief. Hurt can come from people (their words, a conflict, rejection, lack of appreciation, abuse - verbal or physical, or a broken relationship) or circumstances (personal failure, grief or loss, disappointment or loneliness).
Hurts rob us of our joy. It is hard to be joyful when you are feeling hurt.
Think of Joseph and Mary and the potential of these things to rob them of that first Christmas Joy.
- Irritations - from a long 120 kilometer journey back home because of a census, possibly riding on a donkey, not the most comfortable trip when you are pregnant! Then finding no room in the guest house and ending up having your baby in a stable.
- Negativity - baby Jesus is God in human form. Surely they could have received a business class upgrade or a better welcoming party! And then those unusual gifts - what's a baby to do with frankincense and myrrh!
- Worry - for their very lives, because of jealous king Herod.
- Hurts - from people’s opinions, the criticism, and inevitable gossip.
Which joy robber is trying to steal (or has already stolen!) your joy right now?
Tomorrow: Living the Joy-Filled Life