Show respect even to people who don’t deserve it. Not as a reflection of their character, but as a reflection of yours.
Acts 8:8 says, “so there was great joy in that city.” The backstory is that Philip was proclaiming the good news of Jesus’ resurrection in Samaria, and when people saw the works he performed and heard what he said, they believed. People were healed and freed from sin… So there was great joy in that city.
The other day I got a gift from someone and it was this verse. Initially I was struck by the word “joy”, something I’ve been missing lately, but a word that has consistently shown up over the last week. After taking the time to look into the story a bit, I was reminded that I am a carrier of joy. I tell the good news to the masses every day, tell stories of the goodness and power of Christ, through my own living and also by telling others’ stories. In many forms, whether by word or deed, or in the quiet of solitude with Him, I bring joy to my Maker and in His name, those around me.
The point is not this verse, but that it was part of a recent series of events that has me holding on to Christ with every ounce of strength I’ve got. Because, I stumbled into this role of working at a church. It’s a good thing too, because I can’t remember a day the weight of the souls of those around me didn’t weigh on my heart. The Lord placed a call on me that I’ve known for as long as I can remember, the call to see the lost found, freed, and made alive. But I never would’ve ended up in formal ministry on my own accord … So Jesus brought me to a point, then dumped it in my lap. I’m navigating new waters here. Faced with my own sin and inability to bring freedom to others because I’m still learning it myself. But within the last few weeks, Christ has lifted a veil that covered my eyes and is stretching me to new territory. Like true humility (ouch… I’m embarrassed by how much humility hurts me), ministering to people who don’t see me as someone who could pour into them, surrendering the deepest dreams of my heart to the One who created them… And in one act of confession and surrender, He’s come to me.
Because all in all I’ve learned that joy is not some elusive, intangible idea. It’s a HUGE, very real byproduct of abiding in God. I love the way Gill explains Nehemiah 8:10 (Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”):
for the joy of the Lord is your strength; to rejoice, as the Lord commanded them on such days as these, was a means both of increasing their bodily strength and their inward strength, and of fitting them the more to perform their duty to God and men with cheerfulness, which sorrow and heaviness made unfit for; and the joy which has the Lord for its object, and comes from him, is the cause of renewing spiritual strength, so as to run and not be weary, walk and not faint, in the ways of God.
I think over the past few months, and especially in the past few ays, God has been fitting me the more to perform my duty to Him and others. He finds joy in me, and creates joy in me, renewing my spiritual strength so I can walk always in the ways of God.
So while I hold on to His promises, I find renewed peace that I am where I am precisely because the Lord loves me, not in spite of His love for me. Because God loves me, He decided to reveal joy to me at this very moment in time; He led me to choose counseling, pursue worship, and for my friend to start this bible study now rather than two months ago. I’m in the job I’m in, making the money I’m making, living where I’m living, knowing who I’m knowing, etc. all because He loves me so. And man, there’s joy here.