I’m glad I held my temper ’cause when you fight fire with fire all you do is burn your fingers, too.”
–Red Steagall (“The Blue Roan and the Kid”)
“So let’s stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall.”
–Romans 14:13 (NLT)
“Joy is the motor, the thing that keeps everything else going. Joy produces energy. Joy makes us strong.”
“When you are truly joyful, you are wound up by some mighty dynamic power; you feel strong, you are lifted up above yourself, you are ready to meet every enemy from every direction and quarter; you smile in the face of them all; you say, ‘I defy them, they can never rob me of it.’ The joy of the Lord is your strength; it is a strong power, a mighty robust think.”
–D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Now don’t get on your high-horse with me telling me that I don’t know the trouble you’ve seen. Bah, Paul writes, “Rejoice evermore” (1 Thessalonians 5:16). When are afflictions arise we are to be thankful and rejoice. The problem we have is that old cliché, “We’re only human.”. If not careful we can let our woes drag us away from the joy of the Lord. One of the things that astonished the Romans when the Christians were put to death in the arena was their joy. They went to their deaths singing.
Look for a moment at Proverbs 23:13-14:
“Eat honey, my son, for it is good; honey from the comb is sweet to your taste. Know also that wisdom is sweet to your soul; if you find
it, there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.”
The world is all confused and messed up. The deceit of the devil in the Garden was over this very thing. If you want wisdom, to be like God, just take a bite. Adam and Eve partook of the forbidden fruit, seeking to become “God” and then they hide from Him. Since the Fall, people have been hiding from God. They hide in their careers, they hide in their wealth. Some hide in saying that God does not exist, trying to push Him from their thoughts; they hide in philosophies which are feeble attempts to give them some kind of satisfaction. Some will hide in the fact that they do good works, and society pats them on the back and they gloat in it. And shamefully, some will hide from God in their religion. Then there is that one group, that evil, sinister group of people that hide from God in the darkness and in shameful deeds.
What is sweetness, joy/happiness to the natural person? Again back to the Garden, the natural person wants to call the shots; they want to be autonomous. He wants to create gods he can control. This is devastating, dangerous and instead of leading to a life of joy it will lead to one full of bitterness. They think that autonomy is freedom without accountability. Some of these people will hide in “victimhood” because victims are not accountable for their actions. It is because of something that happened to them as a child, it is because of race and color, it is because of the wrong gender. Victims! Therefore, we can’t help the way we act. Listen! This type of “wisdom”; this type of means for seeking joy will lead to bitterness and ultimately death.
The joy of the Lord comes from knowing Him. Therefore, it is imperative that we “get into” God’s Word; that we develop a sound, firm relationship with Him. To begin to know Him and the wisdom of the Lord we must have the “fear of the Lord.” Instead of hiding from Him, we run to Him. His words become sweetness to the soul. His grace gives us hope. Walking with the Lord may at times cause some pain, but through it all there is a joy that is truly unspeakable. “We have a hope that will not be cut off, a sure hope, a hope that is but a sweet taste of the real thing.” (Bob Beasley)
Why do we pray? “Prayer is a constant reminder that we are not autonomous. Prayer, in its most basic form, is the surging of the human spirit in its weakness, grasping at the Spirit of God in his strength… . Prayer, then, is a reminder that God is transcendent, all-powerful, and personal…”.
From an early church father, John Chrysostom, “The potency of prayer hath subdued the strength of fire, it hath bridled the rage of lions, hushed anarchy to rest; extinguished wars, appeased the elements, expelled demons, burst the chains of death, expanded the gates of heaven, assuaged diseases, repelled frauds, rescued cities from destruction, stayed the sun in its course, and arrested the progress of the thunderbolt.”