I taught middle schoolers for a while. And while I loved the experience, there were days that I spent hours complaining after class about their juvenile behavior. I must have let them really get me down, because one day I had a friend look me in the eye and say, “Don’t let them steal your joy.”
What an eye opener that statement was! My student’s bad behavior WAS robbing me of my core satisfaction with teaching. And I was allowing the theft to bleed into all areas of my life.
People influence people … for good or for evil.
I must confess that I too, am a joy thief. My words and behavior affect my husband’s attitude for the worse. I can flip a happy moment into a heated argument with a silent sneer. I can swat joyful celebration dead with a flip of my tongue. I realize that even my friends choose not to share good news with me because I dampen the mood with critiques and challenges to do even better next time.
Joy can be stolen with gossip, an unkind word, a careless look, a deaf ear, a dead-pan expression. This behavior isn’t an intentional harm, but acted without thought. A joy thief is a vacuous hole of selfish thoughts that suck the joy from those around her.
To change from a joy thief to a joy giver is a conscious choice to flip the switch on the vacuum of self from suck to blow! It is focusing your actions and words on the other instead of yourself. The Bible says an encouraging word, a cheerful expression, even a bottle of perfume will bring joy.
Wisdom, which is knowing the right thing to do then doing it, is joy wrapped with ease. Have you ever had a friend that was easy to be around? They don’t rub you the wrong way. They don’t react to your annoying quirks. They make it easy for you to enjoy life. You feel happier with them. Chances are, you have a wise friend; someone who makes good choices and influences you to live in the right way. They give you joy!
Musicians and comedians give joy. The death of Michael Jackson devastated the world. Why? Because we loved him for giving us joyful song. When the Bible speaks of joy, it is usually in context with music and laughter. A life without either is a joyless life.
Animated people spark joy. Shouting, jumping, dancing, leaping and arms raised are all movements the Bible pairs with enjoyment. You can gift joy with peppy enthusiasm for the activity at hand.
Jesus was the ultimate joy giver. He said*, “I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy. And that your joy would be full.” What “things” was he talking about? Right living and being loved by God, His Father. Jesus enjoyed pleasing God! And He knew we would too. Jesus understood that His joy would not be complete until it was shared with those He loved.
The best thing about becoming a joy giver is that joy is never given away, it is shared. It is multiplied. Our rejoicing becomes even greater in the giving. Joy begets enjoyment!