Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
It’s one of the most common questions among Christians: how can I know God’s will for my life?
Admittedly, when confronted by options of education, major financial moves, vocational opportunities, and when or whether to jump into marriage we struggle — sometimes agonizingly — to know what specifically God would have us do.
What choice for the best would He have me make?
But knowing God’s will starts with doing God’s will on those things that He has already revealed.
In his letter to the Greek church at Thessalonica, Paul makes it pretty simple.
Christ-followers are to be joyful, prayerful, thankful.
Many object to the simplicity of this. I can choose to pray. Even to try to remember to give thanks.
But to be joyful?
But the apostles are clear: that is our choice; an attitudinal decision within your ability to make.
I can choose to experience joy, because joy is a characteristic of those in relationship with Christ. If I don’t have joy, it is not because it hasn’t been given to me.
In other words, the hard truth is that if I am an authentic Christian and don’t have joy, it’s because I choose not to appropriate it.
That’s tough to swallow; but it’s biblical truth.
To the same church, Paul reminded them that Spirit-fueled joy had previously been their possession: you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 1:6).
Joy is a characteristic of citizens of the Kingdom: For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17).
And genuine joy endures through difficulties and problems.
James, the half-brother of the Lord Jesus encouraged early believers who were in conflict with their culture: Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds (James 1:2).
Takeaway: so before I expect the Lord’s leading in major decision, I need to engage in some spiritual self-analysis: am I prayerful? am I thankful?
Am I joyful?
graphic – freeimages.com Erik Araujo