We have been talking about Spiritual gifts in Sonny’s Sayings. We talked a couple of weeks ago about the first of those Spiritual gifts, love. As we speak about these, I want to remind folks that Spiritual gifts can be the thing that builds up a church in ways it never thought imaginable, but only when the church family understands their gifts in humility.
Because Spiritual gifts can also be the thing that tears the church down in ways it never thought imaginable, especially when they are understood in pride. Gifts are not to be lauded about to show God’s favor, but instead are to be humbly expressed to build others up. So when we think about the second gift that Paul mentions, joy, we talk about it as a gift not to be taken for granted, to be grateful about.
Joy, as Paul talks about it, is not intended to simply be a circumstance when things go your way. Think about people in your life that you think of as joyful. Everyone knows someone who is joyful. They are that way, at least the ones that I know, through thick or thin, good times and bad. Their sense of contentment is something that comes from within, rather than the result of a happy string of occurrences. The Spiritual gift of joy is a gift from God that is placed deep in our heart, and allows us to be hopeful, not necessarily of great things to come, but because we know that God is going to walk with us.
So in the same way that the gift of love allows us to love the unlovable, the gift of joy allows to find hope and contentedness even in dire circumstances. And when it is expressed in the body of believers, it draws others to hope they did not think they were capable of.
A story is told of a church that did not believe in raising hands. One Sunday, they arrived and were given a helium balloon. They were asked to let the balloon go when they experienced a feeling of joy. All through the service as they elements went on, people released their balloons. When they left the service, one was asked what inspired them to release their balloon. “I saw the others rising to the ceiling, and it caused me to reflect on the many reasons others were letting their balloons go, and I realized that I had many reasons to be hopeful and joyful, so I let my balloon go.”
May you be inspired today by the expressions of joy in the church, and may you recognize them as gifts of God to build you up.