May you be filled with joy…
When Paul talks I listen. Paul has influence with so many people because he is a man of joy in the midst of suffering. Joyous people attract other people. People who are suffering and still hold on to joy, are the kind of people we are glad to be with. Let me give you just one example.
This is from Acts 14.
19 Then some Jews arrived from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowds to their side. They stoned Paul and dragged him out of town, thinking he was dead. 20 But as the believers gathered around him, he got up and went back into the town. The next day he left with Barnabas for Derbe.
21 After preaching the Good News in Derbe and making many disciples, Paul and Barnabas returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch of Pisidia, 22 where they strengthened the believers. They encouraged them to continue in the faith.
So, it appears Paul is stoned to death, he is prayed for and resuscitated from the dead, then he goes right back to where the people live who stoned him and he share the good news of Jesus again. He returns, not to condemn the town, not to seek revenge, but to be a witness to those who are receptive. And how receptive might you be to someone who cares about you so much they are willing to face death to see you again?
When life isn’t going our way, when we are hurting and struggling how can we possibly be glad to be with others, let alone encourage and strengthen?
Because that’s what Christians do. To be filled with the joy of Jesus is to move forward no matter what we face in life. We are glad to be with Jesus and glad to be with each other because that’s the way of the cross. With Jesus we move straight ahead to the cross and like Jesus, we move beyond it. We have his joy when we realize what we are given to be with him.
Who needs your encouragement today?