Joy is manifestation of the rule and reign of Jesus in the life of a Christian. A kingdom family should manifest joy. Peter writes, “Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory,” (1 Peter 1:8, ESV) Peter’s audience was discouraged by the persecution they were encountering, but he challenges them to manifest inexpressible joy in spite of their circumstances.
Inexpressible joy does not describe many of the Christian families I encounter these days. As D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones writes, “We have given the impression that to be a Christian means to be miserable." Christians should be the most joyful people on the planet. When we are joyless we harm our witness to the world and impact our legacy with our family. Demonstrating joy in a fallen world is one of the greatest testimonies of Christ living in you. Here are 4 practical applications for leaving a legacy of joy.
1. Prioritize your passion.
When we have misguided passions and misplaced priorities we find ourselves void of joy. Families become whirlwinds of busyness trying to find their joy in the pursuit of empty idols. Scott Thomas writes, “We discover what our idols are by asking what gives our life meaning, worth, and value.” What do your priorities and passions say about where you get meaning, worth, and value? Many families are joyless because they have misguided passions and misplaced priorities. Prioritize wisely.
2. Choose love.
Bitterness, hurt, anger, hate, and the like, steal our joy and infect our families. Sometimes we just have to make up our mind that the most Christ-like action we can take in a circumstance is to choose to love. When we choose love we are crucifying our flesh and relying on the Spirit. We manifest joy when we are walking in the Spirit and choose love.
3. Cultivate contentment.
When I reflect on my marriage over the last 12 years, some of the most miserable times occurred when we were not practicing contentment. Because we allowed all our wants to become needs it affected our finances. My wife would agree we were not a joy filled family. Today our family is totally debt-free, we are renting and do not even have a house payment! There is a marked difference in the joyfulness we exhibit and experience as a family, when we are practicing contentment.
4. Grow in the gospel.
Paul celebrates the Christians in Colossae’s growth in the gospel, Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth,” (Colossians 1:5–6, ESV) You are growing in the gospel when you are repenting and bearing fruit. A fruit of growing in the gospel will be the manifestation of joy as we lead our families.
Prioritizing our passions, choosing love, cultivating contentment, and growing in the gospel will lay a strong foundation for a legacy of joy in your family.