by Hannah Nelson – Associate Pastor – Kids and Families
Joy is a Gift!
Have you ever worked really hard for something, like blood-sweat-tears hard, and in the end the payment or reward just didn’t feel worth it? I mean, when you work for something you DESERVE the payment, right? And for whomever you were working, well they OWE you a certain wage. As humans this is a normal concept for us, which often leads to a misguided idea of what we think we deserve from God, or what we think that God owes us.
In fact, the opposite is true. We can’t claim to deserve anything from God! As a holy and perfect God, there is nothing He is lacking, nothing of which He needs, nothing that would make Him complete. He already is. But we as humans, so often feel that we are obligated to earn love or salvation from the Lord. We convince ourselves that if we work hard enough, if we can just be good people (or at least do more good than bad), that we will tip the balance in our favor and our eternal standing will remain on the “earned it” list.
If you have ever felt this way, here is a little truth bomb for you:
You cannot earn your salvation…
You are counted as righteous because of your faith in God. (Romans 4:4-5)
OK, so now you are wondering why the title is “Joy is a Gift”, and how joy fits into this blog. Stay with me…I’m connection the dots right now.
Because we cannot “work” in order to earn salvation or righteousness, we cannot claim that God owes something to us. For, if God were required to “pay” us for our works, He would in essence be indebted to us. How ridiculous does that sound? That the God of all creation would be in debt to those whom He created. Paul tells us in Romans 4 that Abraham, was considered righteous because of his faith in God, even before he had demonstrated an action to prove it. In the same way, people are “counted as righteous, not because of their work, but because of their faith in God.” (Romans 4:5). Paul goes on to refer to the Old Testament and says, “Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sins are put out of sight. Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of sin.” (Romans 4:7-8, Psalms 32:1-2)
Did you catch that? Let me connect the dots more clearly. We don’t…no, we CAN’T earn our righteousness, it is a gift for those who believe. What’s more is that there is joy for those who have been counted as righteous, for those whose “record the Lord has cleared of sin”. Because we have been gifted forgiveness, and we have been gifted righteousness, it leads to the gift of joy! Joy is a Gift! We don’t have strive to obtain joy. We don’t have pray harder to feel joy. All we have to do is recognize that Jesus is Lord, believe in His name and have faith; and we will be joyful in knowing that our sins are forgiven, put out of sight, our record has been cleared! Salvation is not dependent on you or me to be earned, and thank goodness! Because if we had to earn it, we would surely fail. But God, by His grace, has covered our sin and covered us in His righteousness when we have faith.
I don’t know about you, but when I receive a gift I really love, I want to share it with others. Think about how the gift of God’s joy can flow out of you and be shared with others. I promise you, when you share the love and joy of Jesus with others, it always multiplies.