THE SECRET OF JOY

  

A few years ago Anthony Campolo spoke at a conference in Hawaii. Because he crossed so many time zones to get there from his home in Pennsylvania, Anthonyís internal clock was off kilter.
 
When the evening sessions were over, it seemed like mid-day. Because Anthony was still wide awake, he started going to a little diner after the evening sessions. Each night the same group of ladies was seated at another table. By the way they dressed and by the things they said, it was apparent that they were prostitutes. One night Anthony overheard one of the ladies tell the others that her birthday was the next day. The ladies acknowledged her announcement briefly and then went on to other topics. Anthony started listening carefully to catch the womanís name. 
 
The next day he had a birthday cake made for her with her name on the top. After the evening conference was over, he went to the diner in hopes that the ladies would come back. They did and after they finished their meal, Anthony approached their table and put the cake down. They looked up in shock. He said, "Címon ladies, letís sing to her." As they sang happy birthday to the woman, tears began to run down her cheeks. She said, "You know, Iíve never had a birthday cake in my life, and Iíve never had someone sing happy birthday to me."

I dare say this woman took a step closer to the Kingdom of God on that day. What caused Anthony to see this opportunity? What do you think was in his mind? Perhaps Anthony had been meditating on one of the passages where God challenges us to break the fixation we have with ourselves. For example, Philippians 2:4 says, "Let each of you look not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others."
 

When I miss opportunities God is giving me to love people, itís usually not because I shout, "No, I wonít do it!" My disobedience is more subtle. Too often I just donít notice the interests of anybody else--because I am so wrapped up in myself. Philippians 2:4 is an invitation out of self-centeredness. Just as we control what we look at in the physical realm, we also control whose interests we look to.
 
Paul indicated that this outward focus was the reason Timothy was so valuable in Godís service:
 
"I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon,
...I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. They all look after their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. But Timothy's worth you know... " (Philippians 2:19-22).
 
Looking to the interests of others not only makes our lives useful, it also causes our hearts to experience Godís joy. After all, we were not designed to live for ourselves, and we are miserable as long as we do. I suspect that Anthony had joy in his heart from the moment he conceived the idea and resolved to execute it. Proverbs 12:20 says, "Those who plan good find joy."
  
In John 15:11-12 Jesus reveals the secret of how to have joy:
 
"I tell you these things that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be full. This is my commandment that you love one another as I have loved you.
  
Letís do it!

                 

ó Jamie Lash                     


 


 

 

 

 



 Jamie Lash  ē  LifeGivingWords
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