Joy Killers

Joy Killers

Last week, we learned the joy of the Lord is the Christian’s strength. Without the joy of the Lord, we are easily defeated by life's trials. Even the most devout Christians have, at some point in their lives, experienced periods of sadness and depression. Maybe you are in a sad and depressed situation today. Maybe you're wondering if you will ever have joy again. If so, there is good news for you. God has promised to give you joy. He has made provision for it in Christ. The moment you gave your heart and life to Jesus, He rejoiced! And His joy becomes yours as you abide in His love and keep His commandments.

Jesus said in John 15:10-11 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

Notice, the joy of the Christian is the joy of the LORD. The LORD can give a man His joy in the midst of external misery, a joy which gives him power to endure and to serve in spite of the misery. Joy is different from happiness, because happiness depends on what happens. There are tribulations in this world we cannot avoid. Joy is independent of them all.

Jesus does not say, “Cheer up”! No, He implants His joy within a believer. Joy is a witness of the presence of God in our life. If God is in our life, we are filled with the Spirit of God and His joy will be obvious. You could say that the joy of the Lord is one of the profound characteristics that God displays in and through His people to the world.

Our lack of joy is not a question of God holding out on us, but rather the cause is "joy killers". What are joy killers? They grieve the Spirit of God. There are many. Here is a partial list:

Hating someone or holding a grudge

Entertainment that glorifies what God hates

Caring too much about what people think

Loving money

Abusing our bodies with substances or eating more than your body needs

Wasting time

Gossiping about someone else

Caring more about your physical health than your spiritual health

Watching too much news and focusing on what’s wrong in the world

Anger and frustration

Caring too much about what you look like

Making yourself and your needs your top priority

Grumbling, complaining, and criticizing

Trying to fix, control, and manipulate people and circumstances

Taking something that isn’t yours

Envy and jealousy

Sex outside of marriage

Putting anything ahead of the spiritual welfare of your family

Language that is filthy and crude

Pretending to be someone you are not (hypocrisy)

Twisting Scripture to make it mean what you want instead of what it really means

Living only for today, with no thought for eternity

There are so many others that could be added, but most of the “joy killers” can be grouped into at least ten general categories. Let’s look at those categories and their remedies.

#1 Guilt from sin

Ephesians 4:30-31 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God (who gives us the joy of the Lord), with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.

David experienced a loss of joy when he disobeyed God. He committed adultery and murder. He tried to cover up his sin, yet he felt enormous guilt over it. After his sin was exposed, he confessed it, repented, and prayed to God in Psalms 51:11-12, “Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.”

Like David, we cannot not walk in disobedience to God and experience the joy of the Lord. We, too, must repent and draw near to God. Getting closer to God always requires departing from sin. Then the Holy Spirit will restore the joy of our salvation even though we still suffer the consequences of our sin.

Believers, who struggle with guilt, have forgotten God's full pardon in Christ. They remember being full of joy because of their new found faith and forgiveness in Christ, but as time goes by, trials come and they lose focus on Christ and fall into sin; sometimes repeatedly. Each time this happens, the believer becomes more despondent, thinking that God is running out of patience and may not continue to love and forgive him. This is a lie from our accuser, Satan.

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Please notice that this is written to believers. If you have sinned recently, use this promise to repent and go forth in the joy of the Lord, who rejoices over all who come to Him in repentance.

#2 Fear

Fear is another tactic of the enemy. Fear can literally paralyze us, neutralize our effectiveness, and kill our joy.

Fear is not for the children of God, and it is not from God. Satan knows this, but do you?

2 Timothy 1:7 For God hath not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

Isaiah 41:10 Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.

So then, the answer to the spirit of fear is faith in God. A believer who walks in faith is a believer who walks in the joy of the Lord because he does not let fear settle in his heart.

Psalm 112:7 He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD.

God says fear not! Living by faith in Jesus and loving Him and His Word casts out fear and restores joy. But it’s up to you and me to love and trust Him, to believe and obey His promises.

#3 Unforgiveness

The soul that is caught up in unforgiveness is a very unhappy soul. The spirit of unforgiveness is like the disease of cancer. Left alone, it will spread to every part of a believer’s life. It will eat you up and you will never experience the joy of the Lord.

Besides, it renders our prayers ineffective, for God commands that we forgive. Unforgiveness separates us from God and the joy of the Lord departs.

Jesus said in Mark 11:25-26 "And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses."

You might say, "It’s just too difficult to forgive that person, because what they did was horrible and things have continued too long."

But you must forgive! For if you don't, neither will your Father in Heaven forgive you! If you want forgiveness, if you want your joy back, forgive, give it to Jesus, and He will set you free. He will deal with the other person justly. It is your duty to pray for them, that they might repent and turn to Christ for forgiveness. Forgiveness and trust are not the same thing. Until someone repents and changes, you should not trust them. We are forgiven, but we must prove ourselves trustworthy over time through many tests.

Furthermore, when God commands something of us, He also provides the grace to carry out that command. When struggling to forgive, go to Him for grace to forgive and look at the cross where Jesus died for your sin. He forgave us of so much, how can we not forgive one another?

#4 Lack of a devotional life

A neglect of personal time with God often precedes a lack of joy. The Lord is our source of joy, but too often, we don’t maintain our intimacy with Him. We fail to pray and read God’s Word like we should. We can’t rejoice in the Lord if we ignore the source of our joy.

Yes, most of us are busy, but that makes devotional time with the Lord all the more important. Don’t let busyness or deadlines keep you from the one thing you need most! Take time daily to unburden your heart before the Lord, listen to Him, and abide in Him.

Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

#5 Ingratitude

The root of many sins is ingratitude. God loads us with benefits daily, but our tendency is to look past our many blessings to the few things that are difficult.

Psalm 68:19 Blessed be the Lord, Who daily loads us with benefits, The God of our salvation!

An unthankful spirit leads to melancholy. It bends our mind toward self-pity, focusing our eyes on our wants rather than our blessings.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Repent of the sin of ingratitude and give thanks to the Lord. The joy of the Lord will return.

#6 Comparing yourself with others.

This comes in so many versions that we sometimes fail to see it for what it is—the sin of covetousness. You might be looking at someone else’s lighter workload, more income, less pressure, or spiritual gifting. None of this is wise, for it will make you feel cheated or inferior—and joyless.

Galatians 6:4 But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.

#7 Impure thoughts

We live in a pornographic and drug-filled society, flooding us with tempting thoughts of lust, desire, and gratification. Impure thoughts kill our joy. Therefore, they must be constantly rejected, the demonic spirits must be rebuked, and our sinful desires must be denied. Instead of focusing on the temptation, we must keep our eyes on Jesus and focus our thoughts on Him.

Matthew 5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

With a pure heart, we see God for who He is, and in the presence of God, there is joy. Yes, this brings us back to the source of joy—God Himself. There are many joy killers, but there is one joy giver. His name is Jesus.

Psalm 16:11 You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

#8 Neglect of priorities and a focus on self

The numerous responsibilities of life and ministry make it necessary that we seek God’s wisdom in relation to how we spend our time. Too much time is selfishly wasted.

Ephesians 5:15-17 Be careful then how you live, not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.

We must live with eternity in view and plan our time according to the roles and responsibilities that God has placed into our lives. Invest yourself and your time in people. Then you will find joy.

For example, there is the joy of leading someone to Christ. And then there is the joy of nurturing and discipling Christians in spiritual growth. Although this requires self-sacrifice, perseverance, and patience, it brings incredible joy.

3 John 1:3-4 For I rejoiced greatly when the brothers came and testified to your truth, as indeed you are walking in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

Self-sacrifice is a difficult thing, but we won’t know the joy of the Lord until we get rid of the idol of self-fulfillment and become a servant to God and to our fellow man. We must stop focusing on our feelings. We need to focus on what God thinks and humbly serve others, even our enemies.

Philippians 2:3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.

When we sacrifice our life for Jesus, the Holy Spirit gives us His joy. Then an amazing thing happens. The thought of sacrifice no longer affects us because the Holy Spirit also gives us love for Jesus and those we serve. We are motivated by His love and find joy in obeying Him and serving others. The thought of self-sacrifice disappears because we desire to serve Christ and others. Therefore, die to self-fulfillment and be filled with the Holy Spirit. Then you will have the joy of the Lord.

#9 Unpleasant circumstances.

All of us have idealistic expectations of a life without unpleasant circumstances. But tribulations come, and they come to everybody. Injustice seems to prevail. Droughts, floods, hurricanes, or tornadoes may strike. We may lose our job. Our business may fail. Our children may disappoint us. There may be broken relationships. Our health may decline. Loved ones die. We can’t avoid these things.

It is not a sin to be sad or to grieve for a season. However, we must turn to God, who gives us grace to overcome these unpleasant circumstances. We must put our trust in Him and ask for the power of the Holy Spirit to persevere. The testing of our faith will produce perseverance and develop maturity. Furthermore, the joy of the Lord will give us strength.

James 1:2-4 Count it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

We can’t become like Jesus if our faith is not tested. Trials will work for good as we turn to God. So praise Him during the trial and you will feel joyful again.

And that brings us to the tenth joy killer. It is not the least of all killjoys. If fact, it precedes all other joy killers.

#10 Not a child of God

Again, the joy of the Lord is the inheritance of every child of God. If you are not a child of God, you have no inheritance or promise of joy, for you are separated from the source of true joy.

To receive the joy of the Lord, believe on Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who atoned for your sin on the cross. Publicly confess your faith in Him, repent of your sin, and give your life to Jesus through baptism. You will be born again of the Holy Spirit who will fill you with the joy of the Lord and lead you to avoid the joy killers.