The Pathway to Joy
Pastor Jon Hueni | May 9, 2021
Pastor Jon Hueni | May 9, 2021
Well, it is Mother’s Day and we are going to push “pause” on our study of the book of Philippians at the end of chapter two. That means we’re halfway through the letter and I think you’ll see the connection between our review this morning of chapters one and two and Mother’s Day as we go on. In preparation for this study on Philippians, just reading through the letter and marking the major themes, I came up with three major themes--you’ll remember joy, unity, and the mission.
Now in the first two chapters so far we’ve seen Paul’s focus on unity and the mission…that these are not two unrelated themes, because it says we conduct ourselves “in a manner worthy of the gospel”, that we commend that gospel most powerfully to the world. We adorn the gospel. And it says the body of Christ is unified...that we show a world that is now locked in bitter divisions, up and down, the power of the gospel to reconcile men to God and to one another. And as we do everything without complaining or arguing in a crooked and perverse generation that hardly does anything without complaining or arguing—well it’s in that way that our blameless lives shine bright like the stars in the midst of the darkness that surrounds us, as we hold out the word of life that this dark world needs to hear and see exemplified. So unity is critical to the church and it’s critical to the church’s mission. There we see the two themes, two out of the three themes.
But what about the theme of joy, you ask? Next week, God willing, we’re going to come to verse 1 of chapter three and we’re going to meet for the first time the command—“Rejoice in the Lord”. Now that won’t be the last time we bump into that command. Indeed when we come to the last chapter he will say, “Rejoice in the Lord”…how often? “…always, and again I say ‘rejoice.” So there’s much more that he has to say about joy in the last two chapters. But I wonder if you realize that already in the first two chapters, no less than 12 times, Paul has spoken of joy…rejoicing…gladness.
So before going on with chapter three, I want to pause and consider this theme of joy that’s already been evident in the first two chapters. Let’s not overlook what we’ve already seen about joy in chapters 1 and 2 and you’ll see the way it ties in with Mother’s Day as we go on.
Now everyone is seeking joy. Will anyone argue with that? Everyone seeks joy, but the question is—What is the pathway to true joy? How do we find joy in this world so full of sorrow? And there are just basically two pathways being pursued. There’s the world’s way and there’s God’s way. So the world’s way to joy is selfish ambition. We’ve heard that in chapter two, haven’t we? The world’s way is being ambitious about all things concerning myself. If you’re gonna have joy you gotta look out for number one. Do what you want to do. Do what you like. It’s the deification, the worship of self. It’s self-pleasing, it’s self-seeking, it’s self-serving, it’s self-indulgence, its self-adulation and on and on with all the “selfs”. Joy comes from demanding your rights and protecting your own self interest. And there are to be no restraints placed upon myself, whether laws of God or laws of man. Everyone must bow to my self-interest as well.
Let’s just pause a moment and ask--How is that working? How’s that working out in relationships, then? How about marriage…when each pursues their own interest? In families…when there’s the collision of wills between children with each other and with parents. In churches, in workplaces, in neighborhoods, and in the nation? How does it work when everybody’s out for themselves? Well, James tells us in chapter 3:16 very plainly: “Where there is selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.” That’s it. That’s the fruit of this self-centered pursuit of joy. Whatever the immediate joy of getting your own way, it soon turns to bitter disorder and every evil practice. Broken relationships, abuse, abandoned children, abortion, all sorts of evil practices from selfish ambition—James 3:16.
Now we’ve pushed this worship of self to such depths in our country that if you’re a man and have desires within to be a woman, then go for it and identify as a woman. And we’re told that it’s just being true to…what? To yourself, right? Self is King. Self is God. So by all means, if you have any feelings in yourself, give expression to them and be true to yourself. And then, of course, everyone else must affirm your new self-identity. Everyone else must bow to whatever you determine for yourself.
Now selfish ambition is the “new wisdom”, isn’t it, of the day? But James says…James 3:15, ”Such ‘wisdom’ does not come down from heaven, but is earthly, unspiritual, and from the devil. Devilish. So it’s not new at all, this “new wisdom” about being true to self. It’s the devil’s old pathway to joy. By the way, it didn’t work out too well for himself, did it, when he put his own interests ahead of God’s? And it’s the devil’s old pathway of joy that he sold to Eve that didn’t work out so well for Eve and her husband, and all of their children…you and I…their offspring. And yet it remains man’s preferred pathway to joy, seeking me and mine. It’s our fallen nature to seek joy by the indulgence of the self.
So mothers, in bringing up your children make good use of The Children’s Catechism and this one question and answer is one that you could use over and over in so many situations. Question: What happened to our first parents when they sinned? Answer: Instead of being holy and happy, they became sinful and miserable. Think how holy and happy they were when they were walking with God, pursuing His will, obeying Him. And then see just how sinful and miserable they became when they started seeking their own will above God’s, instead of God’s. Following self-interest, self-ambition. Word to the wise…seek another way to joy. The world’s way is a dead end in this life and it leads to endless misery in the life to come. That’s the world’s way to joy. Self.
God’s way to joy. Well what have we seen so far about joy in chapters 1&2 of Philippians? I think that the major uses of joy in these first two chapters could illicit the lesson that joy is the by-product of seeking the joy of others. That joy is the fruit and the reward, the by-product of seeking the joys of others. Now that’s counter-intuitive to our fallen minds. But we’ve been told and we’ve seen that joy comes when we do nothing out of selfish ambition. The world’s way says, “Do everything out of selfish ambition.” And God’s way says, “Do NOTHING! Don’t speak, don’t think, don’t act, don’t do anything out of selfish ambition. Or vain pride.” Joy comes when we do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain pride. It comes when we humbly consider others better than ourselves. It comes when we look not to our own interests, but also to the interest of others. And it comes by sacrificing our own rights, our own self-interest out of the greater pursuit of pursuing and serving the interest and welfare of others. And then we do, what we find is not the annihilation of joy, but the highest joy of all. If you seek joy by selfishly guarding your rights and pursuing self-interest…you lose. You forfeit true joy. But if out of interest in the joy of others, you sacrificially serve them, you win. That’s the pathway to true joy.
Now we were shown this in the life of Paul, weren’t we? Paul was seeking the joy of others. He was seeking the joy of his Lord, who had given him the command to preach the gospel of the grace of God. And he was seeking the Lord’s joy by fulfilling the task that the Lord had given him to do. He’s seeking the joy of lost sinners, wasn’t he? By preaching the gospel, the good news of forgiveness of sins in Jesus’ name and it got him thrown into prison in Rome. And the Philippian church, who’d been saved through his evangelism…hundreds and hundreds of miles away, wanted to know how he was doing. So they sent Epaphroditus to him and they said the church is concerned. And here’s a gift, and they want me to stay here to help you. So Paul wrote a letter back to them, and if the Philippians expected to hear a depressed Paul complaining about the loss of his freedom, or the terrible food and sanitary conditions in jail, they were disappointed or surprised because there’s not one note of complaint in the whole letter about Paul’s circumstances and his surroundings there in the prison. Rather what we find is he’s rejoicing. That’s right...joy in prison. It’s possible. That’s the dominant note that runs right through the letter, as I said 12 times in the first two chapters. We’re going to see it a bunch more in the last two chapters. Joy bells ringing his heart. That would not have been the case if he was seeking his own self-interest. Oh, but he was not. He’s seeking the pleasure and the glory of God. He’s seeking the eternal joy of sinners. And prison has given him new opportunities to tell the good news, the joy-giving gospel of Christ to new audiences, to all the palace guard, and through them many others as well throughout the palace heard of the gospel. And that’s why he’s rejoicing.
He’s also rejoicing that many of the brothers were encouraged to speak the gospel with more boldness, with more confidence, and courage. Now some did it out of love for Paul, but others preached out of…hear me…selfish ambition. Christian preachers preaching the gospel out of selfish ambition and out of envy and rivalry with Paul. Seeking to stir up trouble for Paul while he was in prison, wanting to outshine him while he’s on the sideline. Wanting some of the limelight that he had stolen from them. “We deserve some recognition around here and we hope to make trouble for Paul while he’s in prison.”
Yes, some were preaching Christ in that way as well. Does that spoil Paul’s joy? No. He says, “What does it matter? What does it matter?” Now, it would have mattered greatly if Paul was all about himself and what others were thinking about him, but he wasn’t. A bigger agenda had captured his heart. “So what does it matter, whether out of good motives or bad? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false or true motives, Christ is being preached and because of that, I rejoice.” There’s joy in prison because Christ is being preached. So his joy is hitched to the gospel chariot that’s advancing even while he’s in prison…even BECAUSE he’s in prison. And that greater good to Christ and to lost people thrills Paul to the bones, even though it comes at the price of self-interest. Here’s a man seeking the joy of others, and finding it to be the pathway to true joy for himself.
Or again, he’s thinking about his upcoming trial and being held to appear before the Nero, the Caesar Nero, wondering whether he’s going to live or die. And here’s his dilemma: “Well, to depart and to be with Christ is better by far for me. For my interest. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you, Philippians. For your interests. What shall I do?” Well, Paul says, “I am willing to sacrifice what is better for me by far if in so doing I might do something more necessary and needful for you and your interests. To continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again, your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me.” Paul’s not seeking selfishly what’s best for him. He puts that on the altar gladly, because a bigger ambition has caught him and that’s what’s best for them. And he found his own joy in seeking theirs. Their joy in the faith, their joy in Christ Jesus. And so it was again along the pathway of self-sacrificing service that Paul finds true joy. Now you do that enough times and it starts to get through—“Jon, true joy’s to be found this way, and not this way.” And so it becomes the habit, the delightful habit to die to self and to live to the joys of others. And that’s where we find joy. Again in (Philippians) 2:17, “Even if I’m being poured out like a drink offering…”, the sacrifice of his life, “…on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you.”
That was the same in Epaphroditus whom the Philippian church sent with a gift to help Paul in prison. So, here’s the Philippian church, what did they do? “Well, we’ve got some money. I’ve got a lot of needs in my family. There’s a lot of things I could do with my money. I would like to do this, that, and the other. But maybe I could make somebody else happy with my money.” So they got a collection and they sent it to brother Paul there in prison that it might give him some joy. Say that’s what we’re talking about. And Epaphroditus, a precious man in their midst, “We’ll give him up to take this gift and to go there and just stay as long as he can and serve Paul while he’s in prison.” They sacrificed their own interests to serve Paul’s joy in prison, and Epaphroditus was of great use to Paul. He, himself is showing this spirit. “Oh, it’s safe to stay here in Philippi. To go on this long, dangerous journey and to identify with Paul, a prisoner of the empire. I’m willing. I’m willing to sacrifice and to risk my life if it means the joy of my brother, Paul.” And then Paul, himself, what does he do? He reciprocates the same thing. “Epaphroditus is precious to me. He’s useful to me, he’s helpful, he’s encouraging me here in prison. But I’m sending him back to you, Philippi. That when he comes home safe and sound. You heard that he was ill and you’re all upset that he’s ill and about died. And I’m sending him back to you that you might be glad when he arrives home safe and sound. And you know it.” The church at Philippi, Epaphroditus, the apostle Paul…it’s this life of loving service that sacrifices for the joy of each other that is such a precious thing to see in the book of Philippians.
But by far, the greatest example of those following this pathway to joy was the Son of God Himself. We see that in chapter 2. He was not just following this pathway of joy, He was blazing the trail of this pathway to joy. And that not for the joy of His friends, but for the everlasting joy of His enemies. And so, though He is God, equal in deity with the Father. And though He had every right to stay in heaven and to enjoy the status and privilege of worship being heaped upon Him, praises heaped upon Him, He was willing to sacrifice that life of glory. And to become nothing. To become a servant. To become a man. What a stoop. To be despised and rejected by men instead of worshiped as was His right. And in this humble, self-sacrificing service to sinners and to His heavenly Father, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross. Willing to die that we might live. Willing to save us instead of Himself. Screaming in agony, “My God, My God, why have you abandoned Me?” That we might never, ever be abandoned by God. You see it was His interests sacrificed for our joy, for our interests. Putting ours above His own. And this was the pathway to true joy. It’s the path that led to His exaltation and joy in heaven. This was the pathway that led to the Father saying, “Son, I’m delighted in your service to me and to those that I gave you to give eternal life for.” And you raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand. The Father, giving His approval. Showering Him with praises. “Praise Him!” He tells the angels. “Praise Him spirits of just men made perfect! He’s worthy!” And Jesus’ joy was abounding, to have the Father’s smile upon Him for fulfilling and completing the task that He had been given to do. And the joy of bringing many sons and daughters to heaven! That was the joy for which He endured the cross and scorned the shame. Treating it as a nothing compared to the joy of seeing you and me there with Him. Fullness of joy. Eternal pleasures at God’s right hand for us, who deserve an eternity of misery in hell where there’s weeping and gnashing of teeth without relief. Our joy! It’s the cause of His joy. And the cause of His self-sacrifice.
So, joy really is the by-product of bringing joy to others. Real joy comes not from indulging and protecting our self-interests, but from sacrificing them for the interest of others. I trust we see that from the first two chapters and his teaching on joy. And by the way this begins with the person sitting beside you. What interest do I deny myself for who? And we start thinking it’s somebody way out there. No, no. It’s the people sitting around you. Your own family. Your own husband. Your own wife. Your children. Your parents. And then your church family. And then your neighbors and the world. Yes. Well that’s the lesson from chapters one and two.
Do you remember when Sam Waldren was here and preached on Sunday evening from Hebrews 1:9? “…God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy." And he told us that Jesus Christ is the happiest person in the whole universe. And that ultimate happiness and joy came to our Savior in the way of the cross. In the way of self-denial. In the way of suffering and self-sacrifice for others. What if this joy of Jesus, in serving the joy of others, is no small part of what it means to be the perfect image of God? To be the exact representation of His being? That the very nature of Deity is to find joy in serving the joy of others? It something that’s found within the blessed Trinity before there even was anything but the blessed Trinity. And there was God the Father, taking joy in His Son’s joy. And there was the Son, taking joy in His Father’s joy, and there was the Father and Son’s joy, and the Spirit’s joy, and vice versa within the Trinity before anything else. The delight in each other’s joy was the joyful atmosphere of the blessed God, the happy God. And what if then, in creating man in His own image, we were hard-wired to find our joy in serving the joy of others? Because we are now made in His image and that’s why, as Jesus says in Acts 20:35, “It really is more blessed”, more happy, “to give than to receive.” Kids, he’s not saying that it’s a bummer to receive. No, He was not saying that. He would acknowledge it’s a wonderful thing to receive. There’s great joy in receiving! But that’s not the highest joy, He’s telling us. It is MORE happy to give than to receive. That in giving joy, we find our joy. That we have been blessed in order to bless others. Blessed, made happy, that we might make other happy. And in so doing we find great satisfaction, purpose, and joy ourselves…for living the way our Creator designed us, hard-wired us to live.
That’s why Jesus had more joy than anyone else in the universe. He was the perfect image of God. And that’s why Paul was rejoicing in prison. And that’s why you, too, believers, have been most full of joy when serving the joy of others. Tell me it isn’t true. Whether in witnessing and giving the gospel of eternal salvation to a poor, blind sinner, dead in sin. Or giving some money to enhance the joy of another who is needy, or giving some time. Whatever ways you have given, you’ve come away saying, “I don’t want to do that again.” But…“why don’t I do more of that?” That’s joy. That’s where true joy is found. And if it means sacrificing immediate self-interest to make others happy, those sacrifices only deepen your capacity for true joy, when you see the joy of others.
And now, the Son of God has sacrificed Himself for us. Do you know that’s the theme of the songs in heaven? Worthy is the lamb who was slain…there’s the sacrifice…and has purchased us for God. It’ all about that sacrifice of Christ that sets heaven ablaze with joy, and praise, and singing. But you know that sacrifice is not just something for our joyful praise and adoration. Philippians 2:5 tells us that sacrifice of Jesus is now the example that we are to follow. That we are to let this mind that was in Christ now be in us. That the attitude that brought Jesus out of heaven to the hell of the cross must now be in us. To deny ourselves for the joy of others.
Not only is this what we were created for, Christians this is what we were redeemed for. For though we were created for this joy, we forfeited it by sin and self-seeking…by listening to the world, the flesh, and the devil instead of listening to Christ. “And so we all like sheep have gone astray.” Gone astray from who? From God. And where have we turned? “Each way to his own way.” Self. My way. You went your way. I went my way. But together we were going with our backs to God. We were made for the joy of serving others and God himself. And now we’re serving ourselves. And we’re neglecting God and others, elevating ourselves above God, above others. And no one’s to interfere with my pursuit of what I think will make me happy. That’s a formula for disaster. We’ve agreed upon that. And this lie, rather than leading to more joy, is always that which leads us to more misery. But Christ came for just some such people. So we don’t want your way. We want our way. “Oh, Father forgive them. They don’t know what they’re doing. Their trading true joy of knowing Us, which is eternal life. To know the only true God in Jesus Christ and their trading that for…what? For misery. For hell. Father they don’t know what they’re doing.”
And so He came and He redeemed us, believers, from our sin and our commitment to self, and He brought us back to God. And he’s working in our hearts a commitment to Him and His ways, in which we have found a joy we never had before. But believers there still is within us, have you not found, a part of us that still hates God’s pathway to joy? It’s called the flesh. Paul refers to it as indwelling sin in Romans chapter 7. Haven’t you bumped into it? There’s a part of us that’s still wanting to find joy by looking out for number one. And sacrificing my interests for the joy of another is something that my flesh hates. And so it’s going to have to be at the crucifying of flesh that I will pursue somebody else’s joy over mine. Somebody else’s interests over my own. And there’s the battle of the Christian life. The cross is not easy and Jesus never said it would be. Death to self-interest is painful. We don’t want to die. But each time we refuse to deny ourselves for the joy of others we forfeit the joy that could have been ours and the glory that could have been Christ’s.
Let’s never forget that the example we’re following is the example of the crucified One. The crucified One. And He says, “If anyone would want to come after me and be my disciple, he must…” what? “…renounce (deny) himself.” He knows that’s hard and that’s why He meets us right up front. “You want to be my disciples?” You want to be a follower of Christ? You want to be a Christian? You must deny yourself. And then you must take up your cross. Not mine. I’ve got a cross that I’m bearing and you must take up yours.” What’s a cross for? It’s for one thing—-to die on. “Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me.” That’s the entrance into discipleship to Christ. Called to die daily to our flesh. To deny ourselves the immediate and shallow joy of getting the last word in. of living for yourself, of forgetfulness of the needs of others. Of only doing whatever you feel like doing at the time. Jesus says, “No, that’s the part that’s got to die if you’re following Me. You’ll need a cross on which that self-worship must die, and what you’ll find is that as you lose your life, life as you demanded it—you actually find life. True life. Abundant life. Life that’s so much better. So much more full of joy than anything that you were trying to carve out for yourself. But if you keep trying to hold on to your life, you’re gonna lose it.
Kids, it’s not summer yet. But when it is summer and you go to the beach the next time, I want you to go and when the beach is hot and it hurts your feet to stand on the sand, I want you to grab a handful of that sand and just squeeze it and hold it tight and try to hold on to it. And what you’ll find is that is just slips right through your fingers…and that’s what Jesus is saying, “You try to hold on to the life that you want, demanding your interests be served. You’re gonna lose it! But if you’re willing to lose your life for My sake, and the gospel, well you will find it.” You’ll find amazing life. This isn’t even worthy of being called life. Their dead while they live. This is eternal life. Knowing Christ. Living in communion with Him and in conformity to His example, who laid down His life that we might live. You see, it’s a paradox and there’s lots of them in the Christian life, and if you’re unwilling go there until you understand it and it’s a safe bargain for you, you’ll never get to Christ. The Bible says that the way up is down. We don’t like going down. But we must learn that whoever humbles himself will be exalted. The Bible says the way to life is death. It seems nonsensical to us, but it is as we die to the self-life that we come to know God’s life. The life of God in the soul of man. It’s as we lose our life that we find it. And we find it in Christ. We find what we never, ever would have known as long as we’re clutching to self-interest. Selfish ambition.
So, Jim Elliot had it right. He gave his life on the mission field to bring this sweet joy to Auca Indians, when he said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” What’s he talking about? That’ a paradox. Well, he gives up what he can’t keep. That’s the sand, kids. That’s your life…the life of joy that you’re pursuing in the Lord’s way. That’s how we come into this world. I’m going to get my joy my way. My control. But he’s no fool who gives that up when he can’t keep it anyway. And you’ll find that. You can’t live in a world where everybody’s seeking their ways and keeps it. No, you’ll lose it…and you’re not a fool for letting go of it in order to gain what you can’t lose. New life in Christ. Life designed the way you were designed to live. With joys that go sinking into the marrow of your bones and thrill your socks off. Life in Christ forever. So come and welcome to life through the doorway of conversion to Jesus Christ and death to the self-life, to find life that is really life.
Now, what does all this have to do with Mother’s Day? I would say few people on the planet know more by experience what it is to lay aside their own joy for the joys of others…their children. I mean…I believe it’s even instilled in lost people. It’s part of that common grace. It’s the love of a mother. Something special. A willingness to lay aside self-interest for the joy of that little one. And it starts very early, doesn’t it? Even before they’re born in your prenatal care for your child. In the discomfort that you endure by carrying around an extra 35 lbs. It’d probably be good for us men to strap a 35-lb bag of salt around our belly, just for one day to see what your wives are going through. Have gone through. Sacrifice of sleep due to kicks and tumbles going on inside at night and the difficulty of even finding a position that’s comfortable enough to fade off to sleep. And then there’s the birth itself, which has become proverbial language for pain. Pain like a woman in the travail of childbirth. And then the sleep deprivation continues with cries to be fed and changed and held during the night. And it’s not like the next day life is put on hold because you lost a night of sleep. No, it’s all there to be done. All the housework, everything must go on, but now without the energies of a good night sleep. And with your baby on your hip, held in one arm a vacuum in the other, you go about your day. Men, you might spend a day with one arm strapped behind your back just to see if it complicates things in whatever you’re doing. But it’s a sacrifice she’s willing to make and soon the toddler’s walking and needs constant care if he’s not to do major harm to himself. And so that means further self-denial if you’re to watch over them. And even in their sickness you go an extra mile. Mother’s often must put other self-interests on hold to do what’s best for their child. And if the next baby’s on the way, well, she goes through it all again. And additional weight, back ache, sleeplessness, and before long you might even see her with a child in each arm. And there is a mystery of motherhood…how do they get anything done like that? Well, it’s tied to this principle of willing to sacrifice for the good and joy of their child.
And the boys and girls grow up. And temptations grow up, too. And the problems grow up, don’t they. And now there’s the need to instruct them in the truths of God and to know who they are as God’s creatures. And to know His commands and His only Savior Jesus Christ and why they need Him, and why they need a new heart. There’s new true wisdom to be teaching them. And there’s disciplining them, teaching them their own God-given place in the world, under the authority, God’s authority of father and mother. Learning to obey them, all the while finding that our children came into the world with a will of their own that was just like ours. It was bent on “my way”. Self-deification. And that’s what complicates the whole business of child-raising.
And mothers would you not agree that the problems of mothering get more complicated, not easier, as they begin to grow up. Jim, you’re nodding your head. I said, “Mothers!” But it’s true, isn’t it? It’s true. Sin gets more serious, has deeper consequences. Mothers are kept awake at night, not at the cries of an infant wanting to be fed or changed, but by the pangs in her own heart for the salvation, the good of her older child. And she would gladly go back to the pains of childbirth than to bear those pains of knowing that their child is outside of Jesus Christ, and if they died tonight they would go to hell forever. And yet it is that willingness to lay aside her own interest that causes her to be a woman of desperate prayer. Prayer is hard work. Ask any mother. To pour out her heart and cry to God as Monica did for her son, Augustine. Keep praying, moms, God saved Augustine.
At every point along the line of motherhood, the easy way is abdicating responsibility. The easy way is do what your flesh wants to do. The easy way is pursue your own interests, not theirs. Your immediate gratification, not their enduring well-being. So mothers, we honor you. We honor you. We honor you for the sacrifices that you have made for the greater joy of your children. Which is in itself a great gift that you have given to your sons and daughters, many of whom are now raising their children…and they’ve seen what it’s going to take…this sacrifice. And you’re now reaping the joy of that. Of seeing your children, now your daughters, sacrificing for the joy of their children. And it’s a blessing being passed on to your grandchildren. As your children are sacrificing for their joy and they are coming to learn the same pathway to joy. And it’s pointing to God, whose very nature is to find joy in the joy of others. And so He’s being glorified. The One who created mothers and instilled in them this concern for their children, even to the point of sacrifice. It holds before the world that there’s greater joy than self-indulgence and getting your way. And it leads right into gospel conversation about the One who laid down His life that we might live. Self-sacrifice—the pathway to joy. Not just for moms but for dads and children and people of all ages. A reflection of the Lord Jesus giving up His life to have us with Him forever, where gladness and joy will overtake us and sorrow and sighing will flee away forever. The joys of motherhood are not to be belittled.
You older moms, would you go back and trade? Do you say, “Oh I wish I’d have spent more time serving my own interest? The only thing I really regret is that I didn’t pour more of my life into myself and I spent so much of it with my kids. I’ll tell you there’s a lot of older women who do regret the fact that they poured so much of their life into self interests. And they’re not reaping the joys that you are, but they’re reaping the heartache, the regret, having lived selfishly.
Well, you’ve discovered in losing your life, you find it. A life far better than you could have made for yourself. And the Godly woman, who pours out herself in the service of her family as unto the Lord, finds that her children arise and call her blessed. Her husband,, also, and he praises her, “Many women do noble things but, you dear, have far outshined them all, for charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her the reward she has deserved, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.” That’s where her husband works and he tells everyone what a precious gift God has given him in his wife.
And Christian mothers as you did it, and do it, as unto the Lord, you are looking forward to a joy that surpasses all joys of seeing your children hit each milestone and benchmark of growth and progress along the way. You’re waiting for this same Jesus to meet you in the day of judgment and say, “Well done. Well done, good and faithful servant.” Enter into what? “The joy of your Lord.” Enter into the happy. Come and share the happiness of your Master. And come and see where it all ends, this pathway of self-denying, self-crucifying of ambition, to serve the joy of your Savior and all the people He gives you to enrich. And what will all the sacrifice be compared to looking into His eyes and hearing Him say that to you? And you’ll find your joy in being with Him is only surpassed by His infinitely greater joy of having you with Him. And that forever and ever. And He really does rejoice in your joy.
Dear mothers and all who are here, do you know this Jesus as your Lord and Savior? In Him alone is life like you were mean to live. Life here and then forever with Him. If not, you’re still going your own way. Mother, father, young person, older person….stop. Stop and pivot and turn from going your way and come to Jesus Christ and receive this glorious gift that He offers—eternal life. Not on the basis of what you’ve done, but on the basis of His self-sacrifice. Come as a poor beggar and receive it freely as His gift to you. He takes great delight. Heaven rejoices over one sinner that repents. Would you not see in that the true heart of God Himself. That could be yours. All your sins forgiven. God as your loving, heavenly Father. Jesus as your Savior and friend. The Holy Spirit as your indwelling helper. And unending and unmixed joy found in communion with Him in this life and perfectly in the life to come.
Two pathways to joy. Which one are you on? The world’s way? Or God’s way? Let’s follow the road our Savior trod to glory, that He blazed to glory for us, and find our true joy in serving the joy of others. Let’s pray.