In part 1 of this blog series we discussed Philippians 4:8 and how that one verse is the secret to living a joy-filled life. We also discussed the importance of putting only joy-producing thoughts into your head. It is a way of controlling your mental diet. You can read part 1 here.
Joy is a state of mind that must be purposely cultivated if you are to live, love, and influence others as God intended. Fortunately, joy does not depend on the outer conditions of your material life, but rather on the inner condition of your mental life. Joy is the result of something strikingly simple, though not necessarily easy. Here is the simple idea:
Consistently thinking joy-producing thoughts.
Is this within your grasp? Is it even possible for anyone to accomplish? Before you answer, let me remind you that few endeavors worth pursuing come easily to anyone, and the attainment of a joy-filled spirit is no exception. There are risks in shooting for this gold standard of faith in action. There is a high price to be paid, and it must be paid in advance. Certain comfort thoughts will need to be relinquished. Counter-productive habits will need to be abandoned. Excuses will need to be surrendered.
This idea makes me think of another passage from the book of James that has really convicted me to do my best.
James 1:1-4 (NIV)
1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,
To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations:
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Since you are free to choose what you think about, and you have billions of options of what you can think about, here are 4 very important questions you should ask yourself regarding the thoughts you think:
- What specific thoughts should you increase to become joy-filled?
- What specific thoughts should you decrease?
- What kinds of thoughts will distress your soul?
- What types of thoughts will nourish your soul?
So take some time and answer these questions for yourself. How you answer them will be the beginning blueprint for knowing what types of thoughts you should fill your mind with and which thoughts you should avoid if possible.
Malcom Muggeridge, a British journalist, writer, and apologist) said, “I can say that I never knew what joy was until I gave up pursuing happiness, or cared to live until I chose to die. For these two discoveries I am beholden to Jesus.”
Now those are some words we could all strive to live for.