1 John 1:4 – And these things we write to you that your joy may be full. (NKJV)
Full joy. Joyful no matter what the circumstances. FULL joy. Not half, partial, occasional or unpredictable. Full.
Hard times at home, but full joy. Trouble at work, but full joy. Disappointment in other people, but full joy. Health problems, but full joy. Life is just not going well, but full joy.
Joyful, joyful, joyful… despite what life throws at you. Possible? Or just a nice sounding Christian concept that we smile and talk about in church, but deep down believe we will can never know this side of heaven. “Full joy” makes for a good sermon (or devotional!) but it’s just not happening out here in the “real” world.
Well someone better inform the Apostle John.
He begins the first of his three Epistles by declaring “these things we write to you that your joy may be full”. So either he is wrong, or people without “full joy” haven’t read, or closely read, or lately read, or believed or put into practice what the Apostle wrote. I’m not bettin’ against the Revelator.
In the first three verses of 1 John, the Apostle declares that they (him and the other Apostles) were eyewitnesses to the things he was preparing to write about. There was a reason for this. Even in the first few decades of the Church, false teaching had begun to sneak in. A group called the Gnostics were teaching that there was a distinct division between the physical body and spirit; to the point that you could engage in immorality with your body without is having anything to do with your spiritual holiness.
To promote this teaching, the Gnostics had to teach that Jesus wasn’t fully human AND fully God. They promoted the idea that Jesus only “appeared” to have a physical presence. I won’t get into all the details of what they taught, but its helpful to know the background that was the probable reason for John immediately declaring the physical nature of Christ to open the Epistle. The Apostles had “looked upon”, “heard”, “seen with our eyes”, “hands have handled” the living Christ… all unmistakable physical acts on tangible, physical Savior. So much for Gnosticism.
Back to our original point: full joy. John declares that he writes the things he has personally witnessed so that we may have fellowship with those who had personally witnessed Christ, and fellowship with “the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ”.
If you are lacking full joy today, then stay with me through this series of devotionals as we explore what John had “seen and heard” as he declares the truth of God to us.
O God, open our eyes that we may see wondrous things from Your Word. We pray for the “full joy” that your blessed Apostle writes about. Help us to have ears that hear, and eyes that see. In Jesus name, Amen.
Contemplation: Are you missing full joy today? Do you believe its possible to even have it? Can you be joyful no matter what life throws at you? Would you like to be?
Application: A lot of folks have resigned themselves to a life with inconsistent, partial or rare times of joy. John says that our joy CAN be full. So either we are missing the boat, or he was wrong. For some it will be because they have never seriously read 1 John. For others it will be because they have forgotten what they read or allowed the world to choke out the implanted Word. Whatever the cause, the blame for a joyless, or partially joyful life cannot be laid in God’s lap. He has declared to us all we need that our joy may be full.
- What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
- What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
- What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?