“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise the words of the prophets, but test everything; hold fast to what is good; abstain from every form of evil.”–1 Thessalonians 5:16-22
This is the fourth and final part of my week-long mini-series on joy, and this famous quote (not the Bible verse, but the title!) comes from none other than my mother. Of course, “joy-ender,” is not a word found in the English dictionary, but it’s one that my mother frequently challenged us with as kids. As I read through the passage from 1 Thessalonians, the resonance between that verse “do not quench the Spirit” and my mother’s warning “don’t be a joy-ender” struck me. It’s not just as children that we need to be reminded to rejoice with those around us, to refrain from taking away from their joy with our petty jealousy or envy, but as adults it can be just as difficult and important to discern what is good, what is prophetic, what is the work of the Spirit and what is not. Yet, the admonition here is clear: whatever you know in your heart to be the work of the Spirit, let it play out, rejoice with God and with others, always, and pray for the wisdom to continue to discern the work of the Spirit in your life.
As I grow older, I find that the greatest loneliness is not the experience of having no one to share in one’s despair, but rather having no one with whom one can truly share his or her joy. So as you continue to read the Bible, continue to pray, and continue to live, remember to be open to the joy of Christ in the unexpected and the expected. And whatever you do, don’t be a joy-ender!