Archive for category joy-killers

Joy-killer #4: Unmet Expectations

Click here to submit your answer to the question, “What do you think are things that kill people’s joy?” For the rest of the series, click here.

It’s been awhile since I wrote on the topic of joy-killers. I thought I’d pick it up again today.

Unmet expectations are a source of joy-robbing for most people I know and definitely for me. Yesterday was a perfect example of this. I had taken the day off to unpack boxes (since we just moved) and instead had a wild day filled with a number of things I didn’t plan, intend or want. I won’t bore you with details, but the highlight was not having our DirecTV set-up in time for the Broncos game last night. All day I was fairly grumpy and not joy-filled, and I am to blame for that.

Our expectations are often sources for dissatisfaction because they are unrealistic and selfish. We think we deserve a comfortable and easy life and when we don’t get it, we are very unhappy. But the reality is that we don’t deserve anything good. Anything we receive is a gracious gift from a generous God.

If we can lower our expectations (particularly of other people), remind ourselves that each day is better than we deserve, and be thankful for everything that happens (1 Thess. 5:18), we will live with much more contentment and joy.

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Joy-killer #3: Death

Click here to submit your answer to the question, “What do you think are things that kill people’s joy?”

Well, it might seem that death is an obvious joy-killer. After all, we have all experienced the pain that comes in losing a loved one or a close friend. Death, and especially eternal death in hell, are major obstacles to everlating joy.

But it’s not just death itself that robs our joy — it’s also the process. The process of getting old, creaky, wrinkly, saggy, and diseased is a huge joy-killer. All of this is the result of living in a world that is wasting away because of sin. As it is, all creation is subject to “bondage to corruption” (Rom 8:21). This process of dying is an unstoppable force and robs millions of their joy. So, where is the hope to overcome death?

Of course, this hope is in Jesus. The author of Hebrews says that since Jesus took on a human body and entered into death himself, he destroyed the power of death and frees us from the never-ending fear of death (Heb 2:14-15). Those who love Christ will never die (John 11:26). This is the great news of the gospel. Everlasting joy is given to those who love Jesus and approach him in faith.

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Joy-killer #2: Idolatry

Click here to submit your answer to the question, “What do you think are things that kill people’s joy?”

The previous post in this series on “Joy-Killers” was about sin. Today we go just a little bit deeper with another big joy-killer: IDOLATRY.

This gets at the question, “Why do we sin?” After all, if sin is a joy-killer, we should just stop it — right? Yes, that is right, but the question remains…”Why can’t I stop sinning?” I think the answer is “Because of idolatry.” Webster defines “idolatry” as “immoderate attachment or devotion to something.” It is our immoderate attachments or our over-desires — sometimes even for good things — that lead us to disobey God with our actions. Sinful behavior is always preceeded by idolatrous desire.

What are the key idols we face? Here is a brief list that has helped me tremendously:

  • People’s approval
  • Comfort
  • Control
  • Security
  • Power or influence

I find that if I ask myself, “Why did I do or say that sinful thing?” the answer is usually found on that list.

This list is helpful because it gets deeper than we normally think. For instance, most people would say that money is an idol. However, when you think about it, you realize that people want money for different reasons. Some want it to impress people, some to have an easy life, and others to be able to influence key people. So, if you are struggling with the love of money, it won’t help to just try to stop loving money. You need to first understand the idol that is gripping your heart and leading you to love money. Only when we repent of these deeper idols with gospel-truth (i.e. “I don’t need people’s approval because in Jesus I have the only person’s approval who really matters”) will we see lasting change and growing joy.

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Joy-killer #1: Sin

The responses to the initial “Joy-Killers” post have been good. Click here to submit your answer to the question, “What do you think are things that kill people’s joy?”

Today I’m going to present the first of a number of joy-killers worth discussing: SIN.

Sin is simply disobedience and disregard of God. Often times we pursue sin in pursuit of pleasure, which makes its joy-killing nature quite ironic. Though many kinds of sin are enjoyable, the results of sin are devastating. Most of the problems we know of today are the direct result of sin: abuse, hatred, greed, betrayal, murder, genocide, and divorce — just to name a few.

Perhaps a good summary of this is Romans 1:28-32

And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

Why do we sin? Well, there are at least two main answers. First, we are born with a predisposition to sin (a sin nature or what the Bible calls “flesh”). Second, we sin because we want to. Every time I disobey God it is because at that moment I want something more than I want God. I am never forced to sin, nor do I sin against my will. So, at the heart of sin is selfishness — doing what I want regardless of who it affects. When we live this way it not only robs us of joy, but it obviously robs others of joy. Selfish people are never joyful people. 

Next we’ll look at a joy-killer that takes this “sin” thing to an even deeper level. Stay tuned…

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Today marks the beginning of a brief series on “Joy-Killers.” Joy is one of our core values, is commanded in the Scripture (Phil 4:4), is a result of walking close with Christ (Gal 5:13), is found in the presence of God (Psa 16:11), and is something that everybody in the world wants. Yet, so few people truly have lasting, steady joy that endures difficulty — even Christians. The question is, “Why?” That’s what I want to explore together.

I have some ideas, but I’d love to hear from you. In addition to what I’m planning, I’d love to take some of your ideas and run with them in a future post.

What do you think are things that kill people’s joy? (Leave a comment below)