I must confess that I love Christmas. From the time I was a child it has been a joyous season that I cherish. I love the decorations, the music, the traditions, and the festivities. (Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is still my favorite Christmas moovie of all time) Of course, the entire purpose for the season is the birth of the Son of God, the Savior, the Messiah, Christ the Lord. Many Christians forget that the gospel is designed to bring joy to its hearers and to the cities and communities where it is proclaimed. The Good News produces joy at a fundamental and deep level.
The Psalmist wrote in Psalm 100 that we are to “serve the Lord with gladness.” Too many Christians (and especially Christian leaders) seem to think that God told us to serve the Lord with duty, anger, resentment, hatefulness, weirdness, or sadness. I don’t know about you, but I want more gladness and less sadness. So what does it mean to serve the Lord with gladness?
1. The Christian life is a happy life.
You can’t justify wrong behavior just because you think, “God wants me to be happy.” Christians, however, have so much to be happy about. As a pastor I have observed many who think that sinful behavior leads to happiness, but is does not. The happiest people I know are Christians who have committed themselves completely to God.
2. You can overcome bad circumstances.
Joy is contagious. It is not based on your circumstances but on your relationship with Christ. One of the evidences of being filled and controlled by the Holy Spirit is that you have joy. Joy prevails in spite of bad news when you know that Christ is with you no matter what. Jesus has already won so let’s crank up the joy this Christmas!
3. Contentment is a choice.
Be careful about seeking greener grass. Most of the time it’s greener because it is over a sewer. When you keep your eyes on the Lord you really learn contentment and can rest in who you are because of who God is. Serve the Lord and be contented!
4. Delight is better than dissatisfaction.
I love what the Psalmist wrote in Psalm 37. “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Contentment. Satisfaction. Fulfillment. These all come from delighting in the Lord and serving him with gladness.
5. It is OK to smile.
Cheerfulness is a good thing in spite of how some Christians act. It is OK to smile and be nice. You do not need to be a rock thrower. You don’t have to be mean and angry. Serve the Lord with cheerfulness!
6. Pleasure is created by God and is good.
This may come as a shock to some people but God came up with the idea of pleasure. It is OK to enjoy life. Think of all the pleasures God created for us to enjoy so that we would worship him more. Seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, and tasting are not just meant for survival but for our pleasure. Enjoy beauty and serve the Lord with gladness!
Let this Christmas be filled with joy for you. God is with you. Jesus has won. He has a plan for your life. He has blessed you so much. Think on these things and be glad!