No Greater Worth
There are moments in life when you realize the pursuits of the world don’t work and you look to God for answers. I have a few friends outside the church who call me when things in their own life are hard. They’re struggling to find joy, they think of God, and so they call me, the pastor. There is this instinctual notion that real joy, the joy they lack, can be found in God. It’s there, in the back of everyone’s minds, perhaps buried deep, that surfaces when the rest of life seems an uncertain mess.
What isn’t there, however, is an instinctual understanding of how to get it—of how to experience it. The assumption is, “I must not be doing something right. So if I can turn things around and do better, then joy will come.” They try, feel better for a time, but then fade back into old habits. Why is that? For starters, they expect Joy to look like better circumstances and way to God giving you those better circumstances is to do more good. Or they expect Joy to be a relief of guilt and the way to have that is to do better. Do you see? This is the nature of religion. It says, here’s what you must do in order for God to bless you; in order for God to forgive you. Hence, it leads to a very up and down relationship with God.
Paul wants you to rejoice in the Lord. He keeps saying that in this letter. Joy is on his brain and he is eager for the church to experience it with him. It’s in this chapter that he gets to the heart of it. We’ve already seen how it comes as a fruit of having our lives wrapped up in the good news and its progress. But here we dive deeper. We see how this is the case. What does this good news actually mean? How does it produce joy?