This past weekend was a memorial service for a beloved member of the church that I serve. Even though I haven’t been at the church any more than a year, it was nice to hear the stories of life served faithfully to the Lord. Not only faithfully, but with so much joy toward his friends and family.
It made me think of my memorial service someday and how my family will remember me when I am gone. Will they remember me as a person filled with joy and happiness or just a grump?
I say that because I know that I can be too hard on my children. I only know this to be true, because my wife lets me know and I am thankful for a spouse who isn’t afraid of honesty and letting me know that I am not fair with my boys.
The problem that I have with my children is that my expectation may be too high at times for their maturity level. It’s a mixture of my lack of patience with their mistakes and thinking too much into the future.
I came across a Bible story that I have read so much that sometimes I skim through it. But this time I looked a little closer.
It’s the story of the prodigal son. And I want to look more closely at verse 17-20.
But when he (the son) came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.” ’ 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him (ESV)
Something that I didn’t notice is that the son isn’t sorry for what he did. The story doesn’t show or tell of the son’s remorse for his mistakes; it only says that he noticed he was hungry and his father’s servants eat better food than what he is currently eating. So he comes up with a sappy speech to give to his dad.
Have you ever practiced a speech? If you have, you know prepared statements are not typically sincere. A prepared statement usually is trying to convince someone to act on something. Maybe you wanted to sell something? Perhaps you seek to win an argument? Sometimes it could be to show honesty or love, but not always. I don’t practice good loving speeches to my wife because you feel the words.
The son was not giving a feeling speech; he was trying to convince his father to hire him as a servant.
But the father does something that I have a hard time doing with my children when they make stupid mistakes. The father doesn’t ask the son anything the why? The father embraces and loves.
If this were me, I would have asked some questions? Maybe would have the least waited for an honest apology. But the father just embraces and loves.
What I take from this story, is that maybe I need to love first my children when they make mistakes. Instead of waiting for remorse, I should embrace them before they can go into their practiced speech.
Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
So he told them this parable: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. — Lk 15:1-7
We learn from an early age the joy of getting, and hopefully over years they will learn other joys in life, especially the joy of serving.
Think back over your own life, do you remember everything you received? If you are like me, you probably find things long forgotten every time you clean the basement. But I bet you can remember the good times when you served someone. Maybe it was volunteering at a local mission or going on short-term mission trip a long time ago. But you can still remember the smiles from that experience.
Jesus’ joy came from finding the lost and the need, and helping them out. This source of joy should not be absent from us in our life. If you are joyless today, find a place to serve soon. We are created in the image of God, and part of that image is the joy of serving others.
What is Joy?
Joy that is found in the Bible is a state of delight and well being that comes from knowing and serving God.1 It isn’t something that is accomplished by our own means, but through what God has done for us, which is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. (Luke 24: 50 – 52)
As Christians, this is where our joy comes from, but the unsaved can find joy in the consistent open door of salvation (Luke 15). The unsaved, may not know they are lost, eventually they have the opportunity to be saved. And when they become saved, we have joy with the angels and God.
Way to Show Joy to your Family.
Christians should always have joy in their life (Philippians 4:14). If we believe in the resurrection, then our life should be joyful, and it should be in outward appearance and actions. Christians should not be negative and ungrateful people because it is contrary to our faith. If you have no joy, you have no faith because your joy is a sign of your faith, even during a tough time (1 Peter 1: 6 – 8). Because our joy is founded in the resurrection, we know this life is temporary. We are merely on vacation, waiting for our time to go home. Having that knowledge, we treat every day with joy no matter what happens throughout the day. We should always have joy.
When it comes to building faith in our families, joy is an important value to have in our life. If you are miserable, then you are showing your family unfaithfulness to God. Imagine if you are trying to tell others about a great new product that you love, but every time you have the product, you are talking about all its problems. Would your friends or families want that product? If they are smart, then they wouldn’t because they find no need for another thing in their life that has problems. If you are Christian, you should have joy always.
When it comes to your family, you are with them the most in your life. You could pretend to be joyful at work, but your family will know if your faith is real by the joy you show at home. To be the best witness of God to your family, then be joyful.
Dean, Robert J. “Joy.” Ed. Chad Brand et al. Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary 2003 : 956. Print. ↩