I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. -John 15:11-13 NRSV
I often think that I would rather be happy than joyous. And then I read a few verses like this and I am challenged to think about the connection between joy and love. Unlike happiness, joy is not temporally connected to things that are happening. Joy is something more permanent. When we love we create an environment where joy can grow in us.
To be sure, Jesus is not speaking about joy coming from a love that costs us nothing. The love that causes joy to grow is the Jesus kind of love. The love that keeps giving. Sacrificial love. Unconditional love. Love that sometimes does not make us feel good. This is the kind of joy that Jesus had when he was crucified. This is the joy that he wants to be in us.
Remind me Lord that it is better to be filled with joy than happiness. Teach me to love as you love.
... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the Gospel of John.