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Sam Storms is the main speaker at this year’s Desiring God Pastor’s Conference – a conference devoted this year to the theme of joy. Two questions he addresses are helpful for us as a church:

Why Is Joy So Important to Us as Christians?

  1. Joy requires the engagement of the whole soul, unlike any other expression of the human heart. There are things I understand with my mind that I don’t enjoy. There are decisions I make with my will that I don’t enjoy. When I genuinely enjoy something my mind is engaged and my will is active, requiring the conscious engagement of my whole being.
  2. There’s no such thing as hypocritical or insincere joy. You can pretend to have joy but you can’t have fake joy. There’s something pure and serene about joy that you can’t have about any other affection.
  3. There’s a power in joy that isn’t true in other affections. Consider the many occasions that the Bible combines a description of suffering with joy. We know those circumstances refine us, but joy in God also empowers us to persevere amidst pain. That’s why Jesus said in the Beatitudes, “Blessed are you when you are persecuted for my sake. Rejoice and leap for joy, because your reward in heaven is great.”
  4. Joy most clearly reveals what the human heart values. There’s something about joy that magnifies God (not inflates or enlarges him) more than anything else.

What are some ways that we fight for joy in our lives – and the lives of those we lead?

  1. Weave into the spiritual and intellectual fabric of your people the awareness that God’s designs in the moral commandments of Scripture are to expand their capacity to enjoy him and not to inhibit it. (See Jonathan Edwards’ sermon “Christian Happiness.”)
  2. Preach often on the bigness and the beauty of God.
  3. Labor to turn their eyes from the pathetic, little, transient pleasures of what can be seen and felt and tasted to the grand and eternal pleasures of the glory that is to come.
  4. Build into the mental, emotional, and theological framework of your people an understanding of how suffering serves joy. (For a good resource, direct your people to Matt Chandler’s videos about the brain cancer he is facing.)
  5. Be an example to them of joy in your own life and relationship with God.
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