I remember the camp fire song – I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart to stay.

I am working on a sermon on Romans 14:17 which talks of three markers of a Christian.  One of those markers is joy. 

I’d like to say that joy stays all the time in my heart.  And maybe the song writer recognized that joy often times is way down in our hearts and has to be brought up from the depths.

I imagine this is your experience.  While you pursue being a good person, and long after righteousness and God, sometimes peace escapes you.  At those times joy seems to die out.

Often the joy escapes because of relational problems.  I suppose that is why we are told that our primary rule for life is to Love God and then to Love Others.  When that is done, peace and joy seem to follow.

Our fight is often to gaze on God enough that we don’t become biased against others, become bitter or even move to pure hatred of others.  Unfortunately, our approach is often to begin with others, to see their pettiness and hurt they have caused us.  Then we lose our joy. 

But if we begin with seeing God as one who absorbed our hatred, took our outbursts and even died for our sins, then we can begin to overlook wrongs, be persistent in grace towards another and even allow others to abuse us.

I would like to add all sorts of caveats – exceptions to the rule.  But I guess I first need to absorb the rule into my life more fully.  And hopefully the exceptions will become fewer than my selfish nature would like!