Competition for Joy

I enjoy scrolling through Facebook hack lists!  My inner-McGyver loves the flexibility, my budget loves the savings, and my mental trivia library loves the additional resources.  The majority of the hacks I see give me that “aha!” moment:  “Who would have thought it could be used that way?”  But some of them prompt an “oh yeah!” moment:  “I knew it, I’ve used it that way, but I haven’t in a long time so I’m going to start again.”  Yesterday I had an “oh yeah” moment.  The message (I was listening to it, not preaching it) was the fourth and final in a series on the New Testament book called Philippians.  The subject was being joyful (rejoicing, in church-speak).  The verse which caused the moment: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8. My split-second thought progression went something like this: “Being joyful is not natural but it is so beneficial.  In order to enjoy the benefits, I need to keep making a choice to be joyful.  If I think about or participate in things that are negative or un-Jesus like (things he wouldn’t approve of, or do, or listen to), the natural consequences will make it harder to choose joy.  Now that I think about it, I let way more crap (not a church word) into my mind than I thought.  I need to stop taking in the negative and start focusing on the positive (the hack) and make joy an easier reality (oh yeah!).”  I think you already know that too.  But what we often do is magnify the biggies and minimize the rest.  We would not murder and pillage (a Viking word), but those “little” song lyrics, edgy tv shows, or provocative jokes are so insignificant.  Those hard feelings nursed, snips of gossip shared, and behind-the-back criticisms are just passing moments.  Or how about those worries and fears? They’re only human…right?  Do you see this silly (and limiting) thing we’re doing?  We are stretching toward one goal (joy), while inviting the opposite of that goal to come alongside us.  It’s like locking the front door but leaving a key dangling on the outside handle!  This can change, but in order to do it, we must first admit that the smallest thing that is not of God makes a real difference.  This may be as far as you can go today.  Actually, this is where I’m going to stop because all else will fall into place (but still require effort) if we understand the moral competition we feed by allowing opposing ideas into our limited head/heart-space.  Take stock of that space in you.  Talk to Jesus about it.  Invite His loving assessment and free yourself to choose joy like I needed to.