08/06 _Recovering Joy, Conquering Evil

August 9th, 2017

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Recovering Joy: Conquering Evil

Romans 12:9-21

 

  • Today is busy, so let us...

    • ...set up a series on JOY
    • ...and make one starting suggestion about it

 

  • Are we lacking in JOY?

    • As Americans we must be, as we are:

      • frustrated and angry
      • hooked on our addictions
        • is not "getting high" an attempt to counterfeit joy?
      • But as Christians, JOY is our birthright!
        • Not talking about happiness or pleasure
        • my (our) experience...
        • S. Lewis wrote of "...an unsatisfied desire which is itself more desirable than any other satisfaction. I call it Joy, which... must be sharply distinguished both from Happiness and Pleasure. Joy (in my sense) has indeed one characteristic, and one only, in common with them; the fact that anyone who has experienced it will want it again... I doubt whether anyone who has tasted it would ever, if both were in his power, exchange it for all the pleasures in the world. But then Joy is never in our power...”
        • It is a longing that is a promise. It reveals the shallowness of pleasure, and the transience of happiness. Neither the pursuit of happiness nor of pleasure will lead to a life of fulfillment as the pursuit of JOY will.
      • So when we speak on things that kill our JOY and how to fight against them, realize that an increase in happiness is only a pleasant side-effect.
    • Paul's "Scattershot" Advice (vv. 9-16)...
      • 9 Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. - Love the sinner, hate the sin?
      • 10 Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. - Don't get jealous, irritable, petty...
      • 11 Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. - The protestant work ethic?
      • 12 Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. - Keep things in perspective; maybe touches on JOY
      • 13 When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. - Be the Good Samaritans!
      • 14 Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. - This point soon to be expanded...
      • 15 Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. - Meet people where they are.
      • 16 Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! - This from an ex-Pharisee!?!
    • ...And One Targeted Joy-Killer: The Urge to Hit Back (vv. 17-21)
      • Don't seek payback (v17), but live peaceful lives (v18).
      • Let go of revenge and let God deal justly, for His anger is always just (v19):
        • Can God be angry and just?

          • Is anger towards the abuser of a child morally just? Yes
          • Are we perfect in our administration of justice without vengeance? No
        • "Pay back" good for evil, and maybe lead to a change of heart (v20)
        • And here's the BIG point in verse 21:
          • Evil is done to you; let's say someone hits you. Your natural reaction is to "hit back," sometimes with justice, sometimes with overwhelming force so that they will never even think of hitting you again!

            • And you think that by doing this good has triumphed over evil?
          • But Paul's implication is this: the evil was in them, but if you seek vengeance, now it is in you! The violence has been (at least) doubled.
            • Now don't avoid the point by talking about national policy and wartime actions, this is on the level of personal interactions. This is about the person who cheated you out of a promotion at work, so you let drop what you know or suspect about their office romance and get them fired, and break up their family.
          • If we really want to conquer evil, we must conquer that temptation within ourselves. And we do that by doing the good that is often so hard to do.
            • Even in our imaginations of "man, if I could get away with it, I would _________!!!" Maybe especially there.  Because the real battle that is fought for Joy in our lives is fought not in our circumstances, but in our hearts!
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