How to Fill Your Life with Joy

Seriously pursue joy in the face of Jesus Christ. That’s what Matt Chandler says is the main lesson he’s learned along the slow, dirt path of sanctification. There’s no silver bullet, he explains, to become like Jesus, but the greatest single means is to fix your eyes on Jesus himself — to fill your life with things that stir your affections for him, and to toss the things that rob them.

He says more what that looks like in this two-minute video:

Transcript:

When I think about sanctification, a couple things immediately pop into my head. One is how slow it actually is. I think everybody wants the silver-bullet, the thing that makes sanctification move like a superhighway rather than the dirt path that it is. The other is that, by in large, the greatest single asset in ongoing sanctification is a serious pursuit of joy in the face of Jesus Christ.

For years I tried to figure out what’s the best way for me to flourish in my relationship with Christ. And when all is said and done, I learned I needed to fill my life with things that stir my affections for Jesus. And then pay attention and keep away from my heart the things that rob me of my affections, even if those things are morally neutral. I mean, I’m a pastor, so I’ll probably not get jammed up with black-tar heroin. But I can care about sports too much. And I’m not saying that sports are evil — sports are awesome. But if I care too much, then that, for me, will rob me of affection. It will take affection that I have for the Lord, a zeal I have for him, and it will navigate to a different place.

Really, for me, I want to be very serious about the pursuit of my own joy in Jesus Christ. So I want to flood my life with things that stir my affections for him. Then I want to be very serious about cutting things out of my life that rob me of those affections.

I think if you are not doing it that way, and this is the Puritans — mortification and vivification — but if you are not doing it that way, then there’s a lot of self, there’s a lot of just discipline without delight, and then you get into begrudging submission and that doesn’t honor God, you don’t enjoy it, and the whole thing begins to short-circuit. I think you are no longer walking in what Christ came to set you free for, which is freedom. It’s for freedom that Christ has set you free (Galatians 5:1). So you’ve been set free toward something. And that toward something is freedom — the freedom to pursue your joy in him.

Jonathan Parnell (@jonathanparnell) is a writer and content strategist at Desiring God, and is the lead planter of Cities Church in Minneapolis–Saint Paul, where he lives with his wife, Melissa, and their four children. He is also the co-author of How to Stay Christian in Seminary.