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Saying you are a “Joyful Christian” should be redundant. Paul said in Philippians 4:13, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” When one says they are a Christian it should be assumed that they are joyful. Yet, we know that is not always the case.
Sometimes there are enemies of joy that try to rob you of that joy and we must deal with them in order to truly experience the complete joy that God has given us in Jesus Christ.
And if I were to guess, I would say that most of your frustrations that you experience in your life, most of the things that cause you anxiety, stress, and tend to zap your joy …they all tend to come with a person’s name attached to it. Someone who when they come into the room or even the mere mention of their name you immediately go from cloud 9 to the basement floor. An unfortunately we have to deal with these people everyday. Sometimes these people simply annoy you: like the “one upper” guy who always has it worse than you, or the “Mr. Know it all” guy who always has the answer for everything, or just someone who does that little annoying thing that drives you crazy. Other times, these people don’t simply annoy you, they hurt you. They said some hateful things about you that weren’t true, they lied to you, and they took advantage of you. No matter whether it is simply an annoying person or someone who has hurt you, if you don’t deal with that relationship then it will slowly drain you of your joy.
So what do you do? First, you have to forgive them. This is not optional for Christians. Jesus commanded us to forgive. Now this doesn’t mean we have to be buddy buddy, but it means we have to release the hate and the desire to get even. It means that you don’t call them names behind their back or post lies about them on your Facebook page. You must forgive. And remember, if you don’t forgive…you are not robbing them of their joy, you are only robbing yourself.
Next, it is important that you set boundaries for yourself. Don’t let others belittle you or take advantage of you. Learn that it is okay to say “No” to people and know what you will stand for and what you will not allow.
Next, realize that there are always going to be people who will annoy you and life is too short to let little things rob you of your joy. Sometimes you just have to accept people faults and all. Ephesians 4:2 says, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” And as you’re doing this, keep this in mind: We all have our little annoying things about us. So instead of letting it drive you up the wall, deliberately chose to laugh about it and love that person anyway.
Finally, the ultimate relationship we must deal with when it comes to obtaining joy is our relationship with Jesus Christ. He is the author of our joy. True joy only comes when we surrender our life to Him. So if your joy is depleted, take a moment to look at the relationships in your life and ask God to help you deal with each one in a positive manner.
(Barry Robinson is the pastor of Williamstown United Methodist Church. He can be reached at email@example.com or call 859-823-5171.)