Pursue your Joy in the Joy of the Beloved
The beautiful thing about pursuing our joy in God is that it propels our love for others. Our love is directed both vertically (for God) and horizontally (for others). While the first part of chapter 5 might seem overly academic– do we really need to be persuaded that loving God necessarily involves loving others?– and yet when such objections are addressed we are free to abandon ourselves to pursuing our joy in God.
All this matters because, instead of relegating joy to a by-product of obedience in service to others, joy is found in the action of love itself. Piper’s quotation of Jonathon Edwards helps us see this with clarity:
In some sense the most benevolent, generous person in the world seeks his own happiness in doing good to others, because he places his happiness in their good. His mind is so enlarged as to take them, as it were, into himself. Thus when they are happy, he feels it; he partakes with them, and is happy in their happiness.
And so a genuine love for others is actually born of our love for God. In Piper’s words, “Love is the overflow and expansion of joy in God, which gladly meets the needs of others.” And this is not merely an accidental by-product, but grounded in the nature of love for God itself. In this light, the apostle John’s words are worthy of our re-reading:
1John 3:16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
1John 4:7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
For your reflection and prayer
- Loving the lovely is almost intuitive– it just happens. Loving family is easy (sometimes!). But what is it really that motivates your love for the people at your church?
- How might things be different if you located your ‘happiness’ in the happiness of the members of your church or your small group?
Bring this to God in prayer now.
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