To the glory and praise of God.
In his letter to the Philippian Christians, the apostle Paul said that his outrageous joy was based on a desire for God’s approval. “This I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:9-11).
First, Paul prayed that their “love may abound still more and more.” That word “abound” means “to overflow.” Imagine placing a bucket under Niagara Falls. That’s the kind of overflowing love he was talking about. Paul prayed that their love for God and their love for one another would overflow more and more. Why? So they could have spiritual goose bumps? No. He wanted their love to result in a real knowledge of God and who He is.
Paul also said he wanted their love to result in “all discernment.” The word “discernment” means to have a taste for what is good. Paul wanted them to “approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere.” The word translated “sincere” means “without blemish.” Paul also wanted them to be “blameless.” That word in Greek refers to the part of an animal trap on which the bait was attached to deceive the animal. Paul was saying, “I don’t want you to live in such a way that your lives cause other Christians to stumble or fall.” Paul wanted them–and us–to be sincere and blameless “until the day of Christ.” In other words, Paul lived in anticipation of the day he would meet Jesus face-to-face. Why? “To the glory and praise of God.” Above everything else, Paul wanted God’s approval. And this ultimate purpose gave Paul an eternal perspective on his suffering. As long as he had God’s approval, he didn’t care about anything else.
Is that true of you? Are you living your life for an audience of one? Years later, Paul wrote these words about the joy that comes from living for God’s approval: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8).
Joy is not an emotion. Joy is a choice. If you want to maintain outrageous joy despite your circumstances, choose to be grateful for God’s blessings in your life. Choose to be confident in God’s purpose for your life. Choose to fellowship with other believers in the church. And choose, above all, to live your life for God’s approval.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Outrageous Joy” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2007.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.