Jesus says: “9As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” John 15:9-11
There are four decisions you need to make in order to experience more joy in your life. First, receive God’s love unconditionally. Jesus tells you that the father loves him and he loves you. Receive it unconditionally. Don’t tell yourself that God will love you more if you clean up your act. He already loves you and wants to help you grow closer to him, you just need to trust him.
Second, repent often. Repenting from sin is like taking out the trash. When you keep unconfessed sin in your heart, it begins to stink up the rest of your life as well. When you take the trash out in your own life, God fills you with joy.
Third, regret less. Joyful people don’t dwell on missed opportunities; they look for new ones. Let the Holy Spirit lead you. He will give you opportunities to develop spiritually, fellowship with other Christians, and to serve others. Take the opportunity to attend that retreat or conference that has been on your heart, even though it might be hard to break away from your day-to-day life. Join that group that seems like it might be good for your spiritual health, even though you aren’t sure you have the time and are a bit uneasy about opening up to strangers. Invite a friend who might need a listening ear to coffee with you, even if it means you need to find a place for your kids to go. These things honor God. When you go to bed at night, you want to be able to fall asleep knowing that you made the most out of your day. There is joy in that.
Fourth, release others. In other words, forgive those who have hurt you. Forgiving others is not something that you can do on your own. You might be able to successfully repress your anger, but you cannot grant forgiveness unless you know what it is like to be forgiven by Jesus yourself. We don’t forgive others to give them a free pass to get away with something, we forgive them to release ourselves from the pain they caused. There is joy in that.
Joy comes from knowing that you matter to God. Joy comes from knowing God’s got your back. Joy comes from knowing you are being held in the very hands of God. Joy comes from knowing that you are a friend of God. Joy is a supernatural gift that comes from being connected to Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. In the worst moments of your life, God will show up. Receive God’s love, repent, regret less, and release others through forgiveness. This is where you will find joy.