Rediscovering your lost joy...
Do you remember the joy when you first came to know the Lord? That thrill of everything is new and everything is cool and God is blessing you in every area of your life? Why is it that so many Christians lose their joy? Even people who are serving in ministry. I’ve seen so many people start off in the Christian life with the bubbliness of this new journey, but as I watch them, after a while they get a slow leak. As time goes by, they start to lose their joy. Why is that?
It’s because there are killjoys in the Christian life. There are things that will intentionally rob you of your joy. If you don’t know what they are and if you don’t take the proper precautions, you’ll lose your happiness as a Christian. You will begin to despise the church and everything related to organized religion.
In the book of Philippians Paul speaks much about joy and how to maintain your joy while serving the Lord.
But he also points out killjoys that try and rob you of your joy.
ONE OF THE KILLJOYS IS LEGALISTIC ATTITUDES.
Legalism is a killjoy. It destroys joy in the Christian life more than anything else I know. I’ve been a Christian now for most of my life and I’ve seen more believers ruined by legalism than anything else. It can ruin people, it can ruin families and it can ruin churches.
What is legalism? My definition: Legalism is substituting rules and rituals for my relationship with Christ. It’s a subtle trap because it subtly takes the focus off of what God has done for you and slowly puts your focus on what you must do for God. That is legalism. When you get the focus off, “What God has done for me!” – by grace – and you start focusing on “What I must do for God.” – my deeds --- legalism.
When you’re first saved, the reason you have so much joy is you just love the Lord. You don’t know all the rules. Augustine once said, “Love God with all your heart and do what you please.” Why? Because if you love God with all your heart, you’re not going to do something intentionally that displeases the Lord. You’re not going to intentionally break His commandments. You get saved, you’re full of joy and you start serving the Lord and you’re excited, and along comes a legalist. A legalist says, “Now, to be a good Christian you’ve got to do….” They all have their list. The only problem is every legalist has a different list. So you start adding this list to that list and pretty soon you’ve got 459 ways to be a Christian. And you can’t do that. You can’t keep up with it. You get overwhelmed and say, what’s the use anyway.
A safeguard from legalism is this: If you want to keep your joy, stop listening to all the killjoys and live each day by grace. Grace is the key to joy and abundant living.