The Abiding Joy
‘These things have I spoken unto you, that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.’—John Xv. II.
“WHO that has known anything of joy in the Lord but has asked, ‘But will it last?’ And why has the question been so often the very beginning of its not lasting? Because we have either asked it of ourselves or of others, and not of the Lord only. His own answers to this continually recurring question are so different from the cautious, chilling, saddening ones which His children so often give. They are absolute, full, reiterated. We little realize how unscriptural we are when we meet His good gift of joy to ourselves or to others with a doubtful, and therefore faithless, ‘If it lasts!’
‘To the law and to the testimony,’1 O happy Christian! there you shall find true and abundant answer to your only shadow on the brightness of the joy. So long as you believe your Lord’s word about it, so long it will last.8 So soon as you ask of other counsellors, and believe their word instead,
» Isa. viii. 20. 8 Isa. vii. 9.
known anything of joy in the so soon it will fail. Jesus meets your difficulty explicitly. He has provided against it by giving the very reason why He spoke the gracious words of His last discourse, ‘That My joy might remain in you.’1 Is not this exactly what we were afraid to hope, what seemed too good to be true, that it ‘might remain’? And lest we should think that this abiding joy only meant some moderate measure of qualified joy, He adds, ‘And that your joy may be full,” repeating in the next chapter, and intensifying it in the next. And lest we might think this was said with reference only to an exceptional case, He inspired His beloved disciple to echo the words in his general epistle: ‘That your joy may be full,’ and ‘ the anointing which ye have received of Him abideth in you.’
Never in His word are we told anything contradicting or explaining away this precious and reiterated promise. All through we are brightly pointed not merely to hope of permanence, but to increase. ‘The meek shall increase (not merely shall keep up) their joy in the Lord.’3 There are mingled promises and commands as to growth and increase in grace, knowledge, love, strength, and peace, and does not increase of these imply and ensure joy ?4 Is joy to be the only fruit of the Spirit of which it may not be said that it ‘sprang up and increased?’
John XV. II. 2 John xvi. 24. 3 Isa. xxix. ig.
*2 Pet. iii. i8; Col. i. 10; i Thess. iii. 12; iv. 10; Isa. xl. 29; ib. ix. 7; Gal. V. 22. 6 Mark iv. 8.
When it is suggested that we ‘ cannot’ (some even say, ‘must not’) ‘expect to be always joyful,’ remember that ‘ it is written,’ ‘Rejoice in the Lord’ (not ‘sometimes,’ but) ‘alway.’1 ‘As sorrowful, yet ahvay rejoicing.’2 When we are told that ‘ it would not even be good for us,’ remember that ‘ it is written again,’ ‘The joy of the Lord is your strength.’ Perhaps in that word ‘of lies the whole secret of lasting joy; for it is more than even ‘joy in the Lord:’ it is His own joy flowing into the soul that is joined to Himself, which alone can ‘remain ‘ in us, not even our joy in Him. ‘That they might have My joy fulfilled in themselves.’3 Let us, then, seek not the stream, but the fountain ; not primarily the joy, but that real and living union with Jesus by which His joy becomes ours.
Let us not, either for ourselves or others, acquiesce in disobedience to any of His commandments. See how absolute they are I ‘Serve the Lord with gladness;’* ‘ Rejoice in the Lord, ye righteous,’5 and many others. Turn to the terribly distinct condemnation, ‘Because thou servedst not the Lord thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, . . . therefore shalt thou serve thine enemies, . . . and He shall put a yoke of iron on thy neck until He have destroyed thee.’6
No one need be cast down because they cannot yet tell of abiding joy, or because others cannot tell of it. Thank God, our experience is not the measure of His promises; they are all yea and Amen in Christ Jesus,7 and our varying, short-falling experience touches neither their faithfulness nor their fulness. Forget the things which are behind, and
1 Phil. iv. 4. 2 2 Cor. vi. 10. 3 John xvii. 13.
4Ps. c. 2. 6 Ps. xcvii. 12. 6Deut. xxviii. 47, 48.
2 Cor. i. 20.
press on to firmer grasp and fuller reception of Christ and His joy.1 Then it shall be always ‘praise . . . more and more,’ ‘more grace,’ ‘grace for grace,” ‘from strength to strength,’3—yes, even ‘from glory to glory.’* Then you shall indeed * hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.’5
May I earnestly ask every reader who is saying, ‘Will it last?’ to seek ‘ out of the book of the Lord’ for themselves; taking a concordance, and looking out, under the words, Joy, Rejoice, Gladness, etc., the overwhelming reiterations of promises and commands which can leave them in no doubt as to God’s answer.
1 Phil. in. 13. 2 Jas. iv. 6. sps. Ixxxiv. 7.
*2 Cor. iii. i8. ^Heb. iii. 6.