Do you want to find joy in your life? I found the prescription in the first two verses in the book of Psalm: “Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night.” (Ps. 1:1-2) Not only are we told where to find joy and delight, we are also told where we won’t find it. I see a call for discernment (to be spiritually alert) in these verses.
The world seems to find passion in mocking others whose beliefs are different from theirs. Note that I used the word “passion”, not joy. You know we all see a lot of it everyday, in person, in the news, in TV shows… I actually notice a great deal of malcontent, certainly not joy. It seems to follow then if I choose to follow the angry and wicked sinners and mockers, I will be equally dissatisfied. I don’t want that; I want joy!
Joy isn’t like happiness, which is based upon happenings or whether things are going well or not. The definition of joy that the world holds is not nearly as amazing as biblical joy. Biblical joy remains even amidst the suffering. Joy is not happiness; it is a heart condition that’s acquired by the anticipation, acquisition or even the expectation of something great or wonderful. I can think of nothing more joyous than the anticipation of rejoicing for eternity in heaven with the Lord. So no matter our circumstances, we have joy because of our expectation of what Jesus has promised us. “When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.” (Ps. 94:19)
My mother had two sayings that she told me countless times that I believe encompasses the first verse, “Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers.“ They were: “Garbage in, garbage out” and “If you lay down with dogs you will get fleas”. Essentially, if we want to be joyful, we can’t let wickedness into our thoughts or run around with those who do. “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Rom. 12:2)
How are we transformed by the renewing of our minds? “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5) “Every thought into captivity” (NKJV) emphasizes the total destruction of the fortresses of human and satanic wisdom and the rescuing of those inside from the damning lies that had enslaved them. Through the Holy Spirit indwelling within us, we have this power in the name of Jesus. We are no longer slaves to unrighteousness, and that is something to be truly joyous about!
So how best can we takes these thoughts into captivity? We capture ungodly thoughts by honestly admitting them to the Lord and asking Him to redirect our thinking, so that we can keep our thoughts on His truth. The key is in the second verse, “But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night.” Instead of following the “wisdom of the world” (which is darkness), we meditate on God’s Word, saturating our minds with His wisdom. We pray to Him, submit to Him, and thank Him for His sacrifice on the cross for us. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
Meditating means spending time reading and thinking about what we have read in His Word. It means asking the Holy Spirit how to apply it to our lives, so that we can live as He wants. Knowing and meditating on God’s Word are the first steps to applying His Word to our daily lives. If we want to follow God more closely, we must know what He says. And His Word promises, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jer. 29:13)
When we see the first three verses together, we see simple wisdom. The more we delight in God’s presense, the more fruitful we are. “Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.” (Ps. 1:1-3) When we apply God’s wisdom, the fruit we bear will be good and will receive God’s approval. Just as a tree soaks up water and bears luscious fruit, we also are to soak up God’s Word, producing actions and attitudes that honor God. To achieve anything worthwhile, we must have God’s Word in our hearts.