“The generous soul will be made rich, & he who waters will also be watered himself” Proverbs 11:25
If joy is what we desire….(a mini-obsession of mine at the moment!), we often defeat ourselves by going after it in the wrong way! We could wrongly make it a self-centered pursuit about what we want to get, and lose sight of the fact that the greatest joy is the joy of giving. The most joyful people in the world are those whose main intent is to multiply joy in the lives of others as much as possible. They have great joy, but they’re hardly conscious of having sought it for themselves at all.
Most of us underestimate how great a capacity we have to bring joy to others. We don’t think we have anything to offer that would bring happiness, much less joy, to anybody else. But through our life ‘in Christ’, we have such great resources out of which we could give joy. There was probably nothing extraordinary about the Thessalonians, yet Paul was heartfelt in his praise for them. By their example of steadfastness in the face of hardship, they had greatly refreshed his heart and made it easier for him to endure his own afflictions. “For now we live,” he said, “if you stand fast in the Lord” 1 Thessalonians 3 v 8.
Joy is one of those things that we get more of by paying less attention to it. When we obsess about it and seek it self-consciously, it slips out of our grasp. But when we forget about it, and focus on the needs of those around us, we find it coming our way.
Real joy, though, can be a bittersweet experience. If it comes from making possible the joy of others, that will often require letting go and losing some things that are exceedingly precious to us. Think of Jesus, for example. If joy comes from making possible the joy of others, yet the joy came with the accompanying grief and sacrifice. And so it is for us too. True joy can be very costly……..but always worth it.