I’m sure you’ve heard of the KISS principle, right? Keep it simple, stupid. Things aren’t always as complex as they seem. Sometimes the answers really are easy. Sometimes you don’t need a five point game plan, you just need to pray. Sometimes you don’t need to go for more counseling, you just need to read your Bible and humbly repent as you ask God’s Spirit to change you. Sometimes you don’t need another marriage conference or parenting book, you just need to spend TIME with your spouse or your kids.
The Lord reminded me of that this morning in prayer. I was mulling over a situation I knew I couldn’t fix (but was still thinking of solutions I could try) and God spoke this verse in Romans to my heart.
In the Roman church, there was a “complex” debate over religious devotion and dietary restrictions. People were taking sides and everyone seemed to be offending everyone else. What was the answer? Simple. First, the issue isn’t eating and drinking. It is each person obeying the Lord in his life (righteousness). It is letting others differ from ourselves and maintaining peace without getting offended. And it’s joy in the Holy Spirit.
I was reminded by a former student how we Christians like to say that the devil is out to “steal our joy.” That’s not true. I don’t think the devil gives a whit if you’re joyful or not. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit – the natural outflow of “keeping in step” with the Spirit. If you walk in the Spirit, joy is a normal part of life. We don’t say the devil is trying to steal our patience or our gentleness or our goodness…but we think he’s after our joy.
I wonder why we think that? Probably because we’ve bought into a theology that God’s priority is our happiness. I think he does want his children to be happy, but that’s not his first goal for us. Righteousness is…right-standing with God is. Peace and joy flow from that.
So take heart: The devil isn’t out to steal your joy! He doesn’t like the fruit of the Spirit in your life, but he’s not after fruit – he’d much rather cut down the tree. He’d much rather poison your relationship with God. If he can keep you from prayer or God’s word or out of church, he doesn’t need to worry about our fruit production…it’ll dry up on its own.
So – if you’re missing peace and joy in your life – check the root system. It’s that simple. Get back to prayer. Spend time in the Word. Get back in church. When your relationship with the Father is healthy again, the fruit will follow.