“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field.” (Matthew 13:44 NLT)
Have you ever wanted something really badly? How did you feel when you got it? Mixed emotions?
When Paul listed the “fruit of the Spirit,” on some levels, these are unique gifts, and our responses to what God is developing in us over time is varied. Yes, the Spirit fills us, and we get all of Jesus when we repent and yield our life and allegiance to Him. But I believe it’s safe to say, He doesn’t get all of us.
Some of the “fruit” ripens more quickly, while others take time. Joy is used about 60 times in the New Testament and many times refers to gladness brought about by something God has done or is doing – like when John the Baptist, while still in his mother’s womb, jumped for joy when he heard Mary’s voice. Or the shepherds response when the angel brought them news of Jesus’ birth.
It speaks of uncontainable enthusiasm. Like how fans respond to their favorite team scoring the winning point in the last second of the game. It’s more than happiness, it’s an exuberance that resurfaces every time you bring it to remembrance.
That’s what Jesus was addressing in the parable above. The unbridled excitement when the man, after selling everything he owned to get enough to buy the field, finally hears the words – “it’s yours!” Others don’t understand. Why would someone be so giddy about buying a field? They don’t know about the treasure!
It’s like that with us. We hear about Jesus, and it piques our interest. So, we investigate further and discover that He is the Treasure we’ve been searching for all our lives. So, we “sell” everything that once held value. Family members and friends think we’re nuts. “It won’t last!” they say. Or “They’ll get over it!” But we can’t.
It’s like Paul in Philippians 3:7 when he wrote: “I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done.”
Joy, in the context of who Jesus is and what He’s done for us, is more than an emotion, it’s a mindset. It’s an attitude of gratitude to which we can never give full expression. The closest thing to which I can liken it is the birth of your first child. How can you adequately give thanks for such a treasure?
It’s delight that deepens and grows over time. It’s what Peter was trying to express when he wrote in 1 Peter 1:8: “You love Him even though you have never seen Him. Though you do not see Him now, you trust Him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. The reward for trusting Him will be the salvation of your souls.”
We went around our circle of volunteers at church answering the question, “For what are you most grateful this morning?” An elderly man with a quivering lip said: “I asked the Lord to heal my 50 year old son’s cancer, and He did!”
That deep sense of gratitude that moves us to the core of our being; that draws from us an appreciation that words cannot adequately express; that sense of awe that fills our hearts and minds when we think about what it will be like to worship at the feet of our Savior in heaven – these are how I think of the joy I have in knowing, loving, and serving my Savior.
Blessings, Ed 😊