Years ago, I learned a Christian song about the joy, joy, joy down deep in my heart.
Joy is described as a state of mind and an orientation of the heart, a settled state of contentment, confidence, and hope.
Christians still sing about it and talk about the joy of believing. But sometimes Christian workers don’t appear so joyful. Sometimes we appear tired, stressed, and grumpy. This is all while working for the Lord—teaching Sunday school, leading bible studies, working in children’s church, preaching, sending out newsletters and performing other duties to run the physical church.
Do you remember the stories of Mary and Martha? Back in New Testament times, they were friends of Jesus. I would think being a personal friend of Jesus, while he lived on this earth, would be a joyful experience. What could be better than Jesus in the house?
One story tells of Jesus and the disciples stopping for dinner at Martha’s house. Martha hospitably opened her home to them but then became distracted with the preparations. A meal for over a dozen people would take some work. There were no microwaves for frozen dinners and no pizza delivery. Soon Martha was angry with her sister Mary for not helping. Martha was up to her elbows with flour while Mary sat at the feet of Jesus, hanging on his every word. Martha had begun with the right idea. Feeding her guests was a good thing. The trouble came when she let the work become the most important part of the day. Jesus told her she was worried over too many things and Mary had chosen well.
Does this story mean that we Christians should sit around doing nothing? Not likely. There is work for every believer, for we are created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared for us in advance. (Ephesians 2:10)
The first and most important commandment is to love the Lord your God with every part of your heart and soul, with your entire mind and with every bit of your strength. This comes first, before the good works. (Luke 10:27)
The stress and the fatigue come, as they did for Martha, when we attempt the work in our own strength. Any work done on our own—not prepared for us by God, and not powered by God’s strength, is futile and will sabotage joy. Jesus invites us to come to him to find rest. He says his yoke is easy and his burden is light.(Matthew 11:29-30)
If there is work to be done, there needs to be time in prayer—sitting at the feet of Jesus. Begin each day, begin each task, thanking God for work that endures and asking for his guidance and strength.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13 ESV
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