“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”
– Matthew 13:44
We often forget the crucial role that joy plays in the call to take up our cross and follow Jesus. This past Sunday, the coordinator of the area that I serve in at church was specifically going over “serving values.” Basically, my church does not want us serving if we are just doing it to earn God’s favor or to check off service hours. Serving, rather, should be a joyful response to God’s awesome love and grace.
From the beginning of creation, man was given a choice to love God, or to turn our backs on Him. He did not want robots; He wanted real love. Real love is when you choose someone or something over yourself. But He didn’t just ask for it, God went even further and pursued us, giving us a reason to love Him. (In fact, we are not able to love God unless He gives us the ability to do so.)
After explaining how amazing and wise God is, Paul says,
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present you bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” – Romans 12:1
In this verse, “spiritual worship” can be replaced with “rational service.” In other words, it is our practical response.
Joy is a fruit of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23) So it is not something that you can force, like happiness. Happiness comes and goes. You can make yourself happy (for a little while) by doing things you enjoy. Joy is different though. The way to get it is to focus on God and eternal things.
Jesus put it this way, “Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.” (Luke 17:33)
It’s an upside-down kingdom where Jesus reigns. To give in to grace is to give up your life. To give up your life is a joy because of His amazing grace, love, and mercy.