Gratitude Releases Joy

A common mistake is to think that getting something will make you happy. We tell ourselves, “If only…” but joy and happiness come much more from giving and serving than from getting. The Apostle Paul reminded his listeners that Jesus Christ had taught this very thing: “There is more happiness in giving than in receiving” (Acts 20:35, TEV).

In order to grow in joy, we must resist not only self-pity but also attitudes that are self-centered and self-absorbed.

Joy is largely composed of gratitude… which gains its motivation from a nurtured appetite for the things God loves.

Thanksgiving begins with our ability to see the wonderful things God has done for us and His “exceedingly great and precious promises” for our future (2 Pe 1:4).

Gratitude produces joy… like a spring produces fresh water (1 Thess 5:16-18). Jesus even made the declaration that if we would come to Him in our thirst, He would cause rivers of living water to flow from out of our bellies (Jn 7:37-38).  Supreme joy is God’s nature and character!  We see proof everywhere in God’s creation—birds singing, animals leaping, flowers blooming, brooks babbling and the sun shining! Many people would be less depressed if they would spend more time outside. God “gives us richly all things to enjoy” (1 Tim 6:17).

Since God is exceedingly joyful, His servants should also be joyful! Sadly, many who claim to be His disciples are depressed, sour and hard. But take note of Luke’s identification of true disciples: “And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 13:52). To be filled with joy is the result of being full of the Holy Spirit. “Then Peter said to them, Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission [or forgiveness] of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). We have an intimate relationship with the One the psalmist calls “God my exceeding joy” (Ps 43:4). In His presence “is fullness of joy” (Ps 16:11).

God’s Spirit is a tree of life, producing life-giving fruit (Gal 5:22-23). That fruit includes great joy. Jesus prayed for His followers “that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves” (Jn 17:13). Don’t look to outside influences to replenish your joy; look to the Holy Spirit to re-fuel your tank and begin to speak forth your thankful perceptions of God’s goodness… joy will spring up spontaneously.

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