Stories about heroes in action bring joy to our days. We like to see the good guys win.
The evening news recently carried an article about three brave high schoolers at STEM School in Highlands Ranch Colorado. When another student stepped into their sixth-hour English classroom and pulled a gun, 18-year old Branden Bialy and two other students charged and tackled the shooter to the ground.
Against overwhelming odds, Brendan and friends reacted without concern for their own safety. Eight students were injured that day and Bialy’s friend Kendrick Castillo was killed. But a greater tragedy was averted by their acts of heroism.
The Bible is filled with heroic stories about people who also were willing to go that extra mile. Their actions were guided by their own selfless nature and strong desire to answer the call on their lives. We remember people like King David and his military efforts to establish a kingdom for God’s people. There was also Ruth the Moabite who gave up her own country to accompany her mother-in-law as she returned to Judah.
Abigail faced the disfavor of her husband to provide aid and provisions to David and his troops. Twelve men left family and everything they possessed to follow Jesus and become His disciples. None of these people put their own interests first but did what they had to do to help others.
The scriptures tell us in Philippians 2:3-4, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourself. Each of you should look not only to your own interests but also to the interests of others.” We were created to serve others. Each new day brings many opportunities to put others before Self. You are the hero to someone near you.
Joy is an emotion that occurs within the believer in response to blessings from God. Unlike happiness, joy is not evoked only by good fortune or happy circumstances. Quite the opposite, joy can be experienced in the midst of unfortunate happenstance and misfortune. In other words, the emotion joy is not dependent on external events but is a condition of the heart that is at peace with the events outside.
God’s penman Paul wrote his letter to the saints at Philippi while he was being held in a Roman prison. In that letter, He used the words “joy” and “rejoice(s)” fourteen times. Obviously, Paul was not experiencing happiness because of his dismal accommodations and restricted freedom; he was experiencing the emotion joy in spite of his surroundings.
Joy is a gift from God. Paul commands us to utilize this gift. In Philippians 4:4, he tells us to “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice.” Not only does he rejoice in his difficult circumstances, he’s telling us we should do likewise. He goes on to say, “Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” If God is with you, who can be against you?