Maintaining Joy in Every Situation, Part II
Maintaining joy in every situation is like exercising a muscle. Consistent and proper preparation gives better results. The better the results we see, the more we want to keep doing it. What are the results of maintaining joy? Peace, patience, confidence in God and love. If you want these features to be part of who you are then practice the discipline of having joy in every situation. It is far better than any alternative way of life.
In Part I of this series we discussed the fact that love is central to maintaining joy. We saw that love is not enough by itself. This is because love must have an object, a purpose, a direction and a goal. If we maintain God as the primary object of our love, then we are on the right track to maintaining joy in every situation. In this part of the series we look at two specific examples of how we lose our joy, and how we can get it back.
Male/Female relationships. Everyone wants joy in their personal relationships. The Bible gives us the tools to make this happen. How many of us are truly committed to living the biblical model for male/female relationships? It is not the world’s way of doing things. To hear the world’s message through television and other media is to hear a false promise. To listen to and to try to live out the world’s message is to live a lie.
The biblical model for men and women is that men are to treat all women of the same or younger age as if they were our own sisters. We are to treat all older women like we would treat our own mothers. Respect for women will lead a man to treat women properly. Women who wish to respected will respect men as their brothers or fathers, depending upon the relative age of the man. Notice that there is nothing in the biblical model which calls for or blesses abuse, discourtesy or putting yourself above another person.
The relationship between husband and wife is unique. God says that man and wife become one flesh. The human marriage is supposed to be an earthly reflection of the bond between God and the believers in heaven. Men are called to love their wives. Women are called to respect and follow their husbands. If a wife decides she is the boss, then she brings a joy-killing attitude into the marriage. If the husband does not love and respect his wife, then he robs their union of joy. Maintaining joy in marriage is a subject unto itself, which will be covered in another part of this series.
There are many ways to view the topic of male/female relationships. No matter what we may think or discuss, we must never abandon biblical accuracy for cultural acceptance. In these times it is popular for some preachers to say that there is no difference between men and women. Some churches take this idea to the extreme of installing women senior pastors and they call this a good thing. The Bible is extremely clear. God created a natural order of things. We should not be offended by this fact – we should celebrate our differences. God did make men and women different from one another. Although we have some differences in functions, neither male nor female is of more value to the Lord. Men and women are equally valuable to Him. God did establish an order in the home and in the church.
One of the reasons why we are sometimes robbed of joy in male/female relationships is that we ignore God’s order and create our own hierarchy. If we want to maintain joy in the church and in the home it is essential that we not violate Scripture. It is not good for a woman to be in a position of spiritual authority over a man in a Christian relationship. The Bible gives us many reasons why this is the case. This is a truth which is sometimes difficult for Christians to accept. Remember that God’s ways are higher and better than our ways. We are best off when we follow His directives. Churches which choose to violate this principle go astray from the Gospel because they let social and cultural thoughts override their obedience to God. Every time this happens the church moves further away from the Lord.
A personal example I will share with you is this – I have learned as much about how to live a God-honoring life from my Christian sisters as I have from my Christian brothers. The principle of “equal value but different functions” has been borne out in my walk with the Lord, as it has for Christians since the resurrection of Jesus. I encourage all my sisters and brothers to learn from one another. Men and women are designed to complement one another in ways that make the whole body of believers stronger than the sum of the parts. That is where our focus should remain – on the things that make our witness to the world true and accurate to the Gospel.
Men and women are called to certain functions while some other functions are denied them. Christian men and women are directed by the Lord to treat one another with respect and to do all things in holy platonic love. Everyone should use their skills and talents, but we must use them in ways which do not violate Scripture. It is not about following social and cultural conventions it is about correctly interpreting and applying the Scriptures.
Jesus warned us that a little bit of evil works its way through the fellowship just like a little bit of leaven works its way through a whole loaf of bread. We all want God to bless our male/female relationships. Are we willing to ignore the world’s message and adhere to God’s message? Is it worthwhile to us to walk the narrow path of proper God-honoring behavior? The answer is yes.
When a pastor tells you the wrong thing. This is the second topic for this session. There are far too many examples of lying pastors, false shepherds and manipulative ‘prophets’. It hurts when we trust the clergy to tell us the truth and instead they hurt us. Wounds can run deep and may be painful for many years until another Christian helps us heal. So how can we maintain joy when a professional pastor lies to us?
There are three aspects to setting things right. The first step is to recover the biblical truth. The second aspect is to release the pain. The third step is to use the experience to help others in some way. This may seem counterintuitive but it does work.
1. Recovering the biblical truth means taking whatever the pastor said and examining it by the light of Scripture. Make sure that you do not just believe the pastor was right, or that they had the correct interpretation of the Bible. Check their words. Examine the passages where the topic is discussed. Many times when false teachers hurt people it is because the pastor himself is a white-washed tomb, clean and pretty on the outside but full of decay on the inside.
There are three components to recovering biblical truth. First, pray to God for clarity as you study the Bible. He will help you. Second, look up every passage which deals with your specific situation. Read all those passages and their surrounding context. Take notes as you read. Then compare what you see to what the pastor said to you. Do you see any points where there is a mismatch?
2. Releasing the pain. This takes time. Ingest this fact – how much time it takes is within your control. God tells us to lean on Him, cry to Him and to ask Him for peace in our hearts and minds. Sometimes when a minister has lied we are too hurt to trust God. Maybe we pray and then if the pain is still there we lose confidence in the Lord. Once you realize that what the minister said was in fact not true, and you know from you study of the Bible the reason it is not true, then it much easier to trust God. Two very effective ways to release the pain are to give it God in your prayers, and then go help other people.
3. Using your pain to help others. This is what Jesus did on the cross. He went through unimaginable emotional and physical pain in order to bring us to God. The Lord Jesus bought our salvation with His blood. Now salvation is available to anyone who accepts Him as Lord and Savior. All Christians are covered by His sacrifice. He went through the pain in order to help us.
We can apply the same principle in our lives. One great way to recover from being lied to by the pastor is to go use your pain. Find a charity or ministry where you get to help people whose pain is worse than yours. There are many ministries dedicated to helping people. God says in the Bible that He makes everything that happens work for the overall good of the entire body of believers. The psychic and emotional injuries we receive from being deceived by false teachers can be turned around and used to help other people. But you have to go help people in person, hear their stories and walk alongside them. Then the pace of your own healing accelerates.
Conclusion Maintaining joy is a perpetual challenge. If we take up the dual responsibility of treating others well while also doing the right things to heal from our wounds we will become more joyful. Join me for Part III of this series.