Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?” 

Matthew 16:24-26 (NLT)

Many people are on a quest to find what the world defines as “success” and “personal happiness.” Our culture projects models of wealthy, famous, well-dressed people and says that if we can just become like them, we’ll be happy. What Hollywood and professional sports often parade as “winners” are really unhappy and unfulfilled people.

Look at the number of despondent people that you encounter every day. Road rage, violence, suicide, drug abuse, and divorce rates among the rich and famous are no different from those of modest means. The incidence of “bad behavior” among the social elite and politicians is an embarrassment to those of us who hold to a biblical worldview of what’s good and decent.

The Bible defines what joy and happiness really look like. It says we find happiness by following Christ into the life He has planned for us. The way to be happy is to live a joy-filled life in Christ. Happiness is merely an emotion that comes and goes with our circumstances. Joy is more intrinsic and prevails in spite of circumstances. Joy exudes from a life surrendered to Christ and led by His Spirit (Galatians 5:22).

The way to be a joy-filled person is found in numerous Bible passages. In the above-mentioned phrase, Jesus gets right to the point by saying to the believer, “If you give up your life for My sake, you will save it.” He wasn’t talking only about physical death, (although in some parts of the world, that is a reality for committed believers). He was saying that you must submit to God your will, your plans, and your future.

The all-knowing, all-powerful God has a plan especially designed for you. When you gratefully walk in the direction He has planned for you, you will find fulfillment and true happiness. That doesn’t mean that you can’t set goals and work towards attaining them. Instead, you make your plans and set your goals always seeking God’s guidance, then walk obediently as each step becomes clear.

Let’s seek a life that models joy by remembering what the Psalmist told us, “Light shines on the godly, and joy on those whose hearts are right.” Psalm 97:11 (NLT) “Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you your heart’s desires.” Psalm 37:4 (NLT)

Personal Application:

Parable of the Talents

In the Parable of the Talents, Christ describes the joy of a servant when he does what his master has asked him to do. (Matt. 25:21). What is God asking you to do?

When you read God’s Word remember what He told us: “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” John 15:11

Be of good cheer my friend.

This devotional is a guest post by Dr. Jim Grassi. He is the founder of Men’s Ministry Catalyst, a ministry partner of Promise Keepers.