Tag Archive: Joy



“You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.” -Romans 6:18

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Who or what is your master? Like it or not, we all chase after or focus on something, and it is this same something which dictates or determines our actions, thoughts, goals or desires. Man tends to think he is the master over his own life, but this isn’t the case. Man can choose what has dominion over him, this much is true, but once it is decided, it is sealed, and that individual becomes a slave to that very thing.

Relative recent history gives the term, “slave,” a certain infamy and therefore power, in a very negative sense. Does Paul mean “slave” with the same sort of negative connotation that it has today? I argue not, but let us first understand that slavery in the Scripture, is very different from those, “recent,” examples that blot our history, particularly that of the western tradition. Indeed, much slavery included in the Bible concerns the repayment of debts. Yet, now, Christ has paid our debt in full, that by our faith in Him, it may be credited to us as righteousness. Furthermore, Christ doesn’t refer to us as slaves, but rather, sons, daughters, and even, friends.

Paul indicates repeatedly in his letters, that we are either slaves to sin, or slaves to righteousness. Yet, if we are slaves to righteousness, aren’t we then slaves to God? Furthermore, if this is the case, then can’t it be said that God has no more morality than any of those southern plantation owners, who “employed,” slaves in early American history?

In actuality, the answer is a resounding no! For although Paul uses the word, he does so to put it in, “human terms.” When we examine the slavery mentioned by Paul and juxtapose it with the slavery of history, we find a key difference, and, in fact, it is Christ Himself who is the key that unlocks the shackles that bind our hands and feet, setting us free!

When we look at the contemporary conception of the institution of slavery, we find it not only terrible, but completely self-serving. Though slavery is for the benefit of one, the land owner, Christ came for the benefit of many. In Christ we do serve God, but we too are rewarded in and by our efforts, We find that we benefit in being slaves to righteousness, which negates slavery altogether. In addition, we find others benefit in our being “slaves” to this righteousness, and we are given eternal life and glorify God with our very lives.

Sin is the true slavery, and more in tune with the current view of slavery then the antithesis. For though man’s carnal desires may be satisfied in short term, there is no true benefit, only pacification. What is true is what is eternal. Live for righteousness that you may be a slave no longer, live for Christ. Through sin came pain, death, and misery, but through Christ, we gain contentment, life, and joy. Glory be to God who through His Son broke us out of the bonds and freed us from sin and the wage that comes from it, death.

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“Looking at His disciples, He said: ‘Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God. 21Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. 22Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. 23Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets. 24But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort. 25Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep. 26Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.'”

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If one has ears to hear, let him hear. Many verses containing the word of Christ, and indeed throughout the Bible, contain some passages that may look curious or downright scary at first glance. Furthermore, they may seem to contradict the rest of what scripture says, though with closer inspection this isn’t the case. Although this section provided me with a lot of comfort, it also alarmed me somewhat.

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It seemed to say that to follow Christ I had to be in a constant state of misery. This obviously isn’t the case. When we look at the example of Paul for instance, we find that he was content no matter what he lacked or what hardships he faced. As he says in 2 Corinthians 12:10, “I delight in weakness, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions in difficulties.” Instead, he had a faith that produced a harvest of contentment and joy no matter what the circumstance. So what is Jesus saying here? Does it contradict the joy that Paul, the apostles, and we have? Not at all, for even Christ Himself tells us to rejoice and “leap for joy” in verse 23.

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"San Paolo," by Pompeo Batoni. oil on canvas, c. 1742

2 Corinthians 5:4 says:

“For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.” (See my Note, “On Being Swallowed up by Life”)

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Paul both groans and delights. Using these scriptures, what Christ really means in the aforementioned passage in Luke becomes clear. A Christian is not supposed to be void of laughter, or even prosperity. A Christian is warned in Romans 12:2 to, “not conform to the pattern of this world.” Though we are in the world we are not of the world, for now our eyes are focused on Christ. Our contentment rests not in the things of this world, and those activities and materials man chases after to pacify himself, but rather it rests on Christ. This being the case we ache, or groan, to be in our heavenly dwelling and away from the body and it’s meaningless desires, for we know the things of God are not momentary like those things people find “contentment” in within the world, but rather everlasting and more glorious than anything currently made up of the physical or based upon it.

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We should not find contentment or delight in mere things, for as all physicality will disappear to be renewed, so will those things based upon material. In addition, our happiness should not be dependent on man. If one constantly chases after approval of man, then he shifts more often than shadows. Such a person is deceptive to both himself and those he seeks approval from. Contentment in this is just as fleeting, for man’s support will vanish from you at anytime. The reliability of superficial friendships is a farce and often self-serving, ironically to both parties. As it is said, no one can serve two masters.

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Serve God, fix your eyes on His son and you will gain an eternal contentment and joy that is based on the everlasting, not given to decay and abandonment like the things of this world, but instead He who promises to carry you through all things. As Christians we will have heartache, hardships, and insults, but lo, how fleeting these things are, for when the physical as we know it now ceases to be, weeping will be transformed into joy, hunger to satisfaction, exclusion to inclusion, and a lack of possession into great riches within the Kingdom. To this we await and look forward to.

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“See, the enemy is puffed up; his desires are not upright – but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness.” -Habakkuk 2:4

I regard it as a wonderful and amazing thing that when I first began reading the scriptures and developed my relationship with the Lord, I found some humor to be included in the Bible. I knew it would take some self discipline to sit and read the scriptures, for where I was at I knew the Lord would have plenty to say to me, some of which I probably didn’t want to hear. This isn’t too uncommon and most believers can probably relate to some degree, for when one lives in the darkness, the light can hurt or blind you for a time. Yet, when I began to notice little things that made me smile or laugh, I considered it a huge step towards developing a deeper relationship with God by His Son. Not only did I believe that conceptually, but I also felt it in my spirit.


I shall quickly mention here though, that the humor in the Bible is very different from the humor we are used to in the world, for the humor is never arbitrary, to be funny for the sake of being funny, but it is meant to teach and provide insight at the same time. Also, the humor comes at the appropriate time, meaning that God may have you focus on the lesson at hand, then follow it up by something that may make you chuckle. In a same way, something might make you chuckle to get your attention and then the message might come to you.

What ever the case, its possible we all approach the scriptures individually and maybe some are convicted about reading over the word of God with more of a stone-like countenance, but I ask why? If we do laugh and there is humor in the world, then it follows that it had to originate with God as did everything (See my note on 1 John 4:19, “On Love’s First Cause”). In addition, the potential of humor in evangelism cannot be denied. It is man that perverts humor. I will take this opportunity to confess that I myself have engaged in crass forms of it from time to time, which I am sure Lord didn’t find particularly amusing. Yet, despite my struggles, to me and my walk it was a fantastic realization that God does indeed have a sense of humor.

Thus, during your devotional time, if you find something particularly amusing, don’t be afraid to laugh, for the Scriptures tell us that laughter is a manifestation of joy (Psalm 126:2). The Bible wasn’t meant to be a burden on us, as it can honestly feel like due to the spiritual battle and war against the self in particular times of conviction. Rather, we are told that the yolk is light and to take great joy in God’s word (Jeremiah 15:16). Indeed, it is difficult to read about the crucifixion, for the events are brutal, but paradoxically it’s difficult not to smile when one thinks on Christ going through all the suffering He did for us that we may be saved by what He accomplished, and then appearing to His disciples alive and victorious! Amen!

One prime example of this pure humor is Habakkuk 2:4. I had to laugh, not because of the enemies of God’s existence and their sinful being is funny, but because what the Lord brought to my mind during the reading of this verse. An image of a “puffed-up” cat. Indeed, the very fact the Bible can be said to contain the imagery that is suggested by “puffed-up” is really kind of funny. Yet, despite the humor I find too an important message. Though in worldly humor we can make a person laugh just for the sake of pure entertainment, hardly ever can this humor actually teach us something important, besides maybe revealing the depths of sin by what kind of humor we may or may not indulge in.

This isn’t the case with God, when something strikes us as humorous when reading the word, one also needs to remember to reflect on the meaning and purpose of that particular which brought us to laughter. Again, this this verse is a great example and tells us a few things.

First, that the enemies of God are often bloated with pride. When we look at at the animal kingdom, we see creatures that extend their forms as a whole for a variety a reasons. We see a reliance based on appearance. What I mean is this, a cat does it when he is threatened in order to make himself look bigger than he really is. Thus, it is self manipulation, the cat “knowing” he may be perceived as weak by what he considers a threat. Thereby, the cat attempts to manipulate its appearance and alter how that aforementioned threat might perceive of it. Of course, I will point out a cat is sinless in its display.

We know this is true in many aspects of life. Think about some of the bullies you may have known, or maybe you were even one at one time in the past, or even now (I will pray for you).

Such people are usually putting on a display for any variety of reasons and though the cat does it for protection, such men do it because egoism, pride, or for the desire to be prideful in some thing, even if it means puffing themselves up to torture others, for they feel the more people they have underfoot, the greater they are. This consequently adds to their pride. The sad thing is we all tend to fall for the “puffed up” guise.

Secondly, those who act in like manner are not virtuous people. They rise up against anything that challenges them or threatens their pride, which by the way, is extremely fragile. They indulge in all glorifications of the senses and forgo the spirit, mind and God, for such a person cannot be hindered by such ridiculousness. They are threatened by those who have security and contentment, and will ruthlessly mock or attack those who have acquired it, for it is what they truly desire, but they remain bitter that through their comfortable means they cannot attain it, and indeed mock all other system of intermediate steps to acquire it. It is never based on rationality, but more so rather on emotion and not based on strength, but rather frailty. At times its not just explicit hate, but its expression can take on the appearance of something much more innocent and thereby more deceptive, like humor.

Their wretched minds are dark, and their actions sinful. They will attack those who even have the nerve to offer a better way of life. We see this not only in man, but these traits are even evident in Satan. Thus, if a man is puffed up to a large degree like I have described, the person is most likely following in the trail of darkness rather than being led by the light. The perversions that Satan originated, become the person’s own, represented in his spirit, thoughts and actions. He lives according to the self, not respecting anything, but demanding respect from everybody. This can get to such an extent that he will try to silence his mind and spirit to focus completely on the flesh.

From "Paradise Lost," by John Milton. "Satan Lands Atop Mt. Niphates, Where He Laments The Loss of Heaven," by Gustave Doré, c. 1866

The antithesis however, is that the upright, the secure, the content, and the joyful, will live in faith to the Lord Jesus Christ. Instead of pushing any differing person away as the enemy does, the faithful will attract the lost to themselves, and more importantly, by the Lord who shines bright within those that are righteous in God’s sight.

The books of the prophets are amazing in that, not only do they give us insights of how we are to live today concerning our own lives, but also contain prophecy about the the Christ. Habakkuk, though a minor prophet by scholarly classification, is no different from his “major” counterparts, other than slightly harder to spell.

The Prophet Habakkuk

We see that the phrase, “but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness,” not only suggests tests how we are to live to be granted righteousness, but also that we will need to be faithful to something greater than the self, namely the Lord Jesus Christ, who was still to come in Habakkuk’s time. Also, because it is in a singular context, we see that it is pointing to a savior who by His faithfulness, will be made righteous and offer that same righteousness to all that would approach Him in humble faith. Not only was this verse fulfilled in Christ, it has been fulfilled within us at the present, that is in The Body of Christ, and will be fulfilled in the future when the enemy is brought low and deflated by the power, authority, and righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

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