The JOY principle, a long standing acronym that describes the methods for living the Christian life in the simplest terms possible, namely Jesus First, Others Second and Yourself Last, has seen considerable use in the Christian world and with myself as well. But what does it mean to follow the JOY principle? Firstly, to understand its purpose, you have to understand that the acronym isn't a cunningly devised word play for the purpose of aiding memory. It's also a way to tell people how to have real, true joy. Not happiness. They're entirely different things. Happiness is conditional. True joy is unconditional. But only if truly sought with all your heart.
But why is this? Why is happiness conditional and joy is not? Because, like joy, happiness comes from without, and in order to achieve happiness one must go to greater and greater resources to fill the void let by the last thing. Hence it's conditional. IE, so long as the item bringing the happiness is present, and it is providing what it was called to do, namely happiness, then you have it in full measure so long as it lasts. But in the end it runs out as the resource, no matter how great, is always finite. That's the biggest difference between joy and happiness. With joy, the reservoir you draw from is endless.
With the world, from which happiness is drawn, the reservoir is finite in volume and will eventually run out. But with Jesus, the infinite, your supply never runs out. To use orange juice as an example of this, imagine you have two items on your table. One is an 8oz bottle of orange juice, and the other is a faucet connected to a pipe offering an endless supply of juice. The bottle would in turn be happiness. It may briefly satisfy your thrist, but it quickly runs out. With the faucet however you can keep filling your cup over and over and over again without end, always satisfying your thirst. That is joy, and that is only possible through Jesus.
So what are some of the ways one can have joy? Well, as the principle says, Jesus First, Others Second, and Yourself Last. That means if you always put Jesus predominantly first in your life, which can only be done if you are a saved, born again believer in Him, and others immediately after Jesus (if you put Jesus first, it's very easy to keep things in their proper order, as well as the needs of others always before yourself) then you will find joy. I'm sure, once you're saved, serving Jesus becomes easy. But how do we serve others? Well, one of the biggest ways is to always perpetually forgive people. But not just forgive. You must also forget.
What do I mean by that? Whenever someone sins against you or hurts you, even if it's deeply, and in the most painful way possible, you must not only forgive, but you must also forget. Forget what they did to you. Forget the sin. Push it as far from your mind as possible. Isn't that was Jesus did for you?
Psalm 103:12 (KJV) - "As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us."
Micah 7:19 (KJV) - "He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea."
So if you can't both forgive AND forget the sins of others against you, then you will never find true joy. You must also express love to others, not lust. That might seem like a simple one to employ, but in today's lust and sin filled world, it's not quite as easy as one might think, especially for us guys. I hate to say this, girls, but the way most of you dress, it becomes a major, major challenge for us guys to keep our purity and NOT lust. And in doing so you steal our joy. Of course, I can't go beyond this without saying the same to the guys. There's a number of you doing a bangup job of causing the girls to lust with the way you dress too. I'm not saying that extreme modesty is next to Godliness, but it sure keeps the opposite sex from being sucked into sin which in turn steals everyone's joy. As I've told a number of people, I'd rather be in a room filled with a thousand ugly people and have joy than be near one immodest person and lose my joy to an uncontrollable natural onrush of sinful lust. So don't steal other people's joy. Dress and live modestly.
Another thing we need to do is be compassionate at all times. I find myself struggling with this quite often. I have a hard time being compassionate to others who employ foolishness to its highest degree. Sure, I can easily be compassionate to the sin, the dying, the weak, the elderly, etc. But my area of struggle is the foolish and willfully ignorant. I don't have an issue with those who can't learn. My beef is wit those who can and refuse to. Yet even so, we are to be compassionate to even these. Strong correction may be in order to wrest them from their foolishness, but even in that we must show compassion.
Next we must be willing to be sacrificial in our lives, giving of ourselves to help others. Selfishness should never come into our minds, or our actions. And I don't say this as though I'm some super Christian who never makes a mistake. Believe me, I wish I was such a person. It'd save me from all the hard knocks that come as a result of my own sinfulness. Nope, I'm just as flawed as the next human being. But even with that thought in mind, that does not stop us from being selfless, even living our lives in a sacrificial way. Didn't Christ do the same thing? I mean, look at what He did on the cross!!
That is the ultimate expression of self sacrifice for others. Even if we can never achieve such an incredible level of sacrifice in our lives (only Jesus could do what He did as He was deity) like He did, that doesn't preclude us from giving of ourselves to the point of sacrifice and beyond in thankfulness for what He did for us. For those of you who know me, I'm not a rich man. In fact, I don't know what rich looks like. I've seen it in others, but never enjoyed it myself. Even so, despite being resource poor, I am rich in Jesus, and because of that I find myself always looking for ways to bless others to both aid them, and as a means to honor Jesus for what He did for me. As believers, we should do no less.
There's also the fact that Jesus said, in Mark 12:30-31 (KJV) - "And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these." As such we should love our neighbors, even to the point of a sacrificial love. That in and of itself is joy. You may not understand it right now, but once you begin to experience it, you will wonder why you didn't do this before. It will ultimately reveal happiness to be the hollow, empty shell it is, and JOY as greater in every way.
So, to recap, always remember these thoughts when considering and seeking out true joy"
*Jesus First, Others Second, Ourselves Last
*Joy, Not Entertainment
*Forgetfulness, Not Just Forgiveness
*Love, not Lust
*Compassion, Not Just Compliance.
*Sacrifice, Not Selfishness
*To Love Thy God And Thy Neighbor Is The Cornerstone of Joy.