I am of the mind that Christians should be joyful people. This is certainly an area I am still working on in my own life, so I like to read anything I can get my hands on relating to the topic of joy.
Can I Have Joy in My Life? by R. C. Sproul is a short, but great, read on the topic coming in at 66 pages.
Sproul begins by explaining the difference between the Bible’s view of deep, abiding joy and the world’s view of fleeting happiness. He even points out that “[b]ased on the biblical teaching, I would go so far as to say that it is the Christian’s duty, his moral obligation, to be joyful. That means that the failure of a Christian to be joyful is a sin, that unhappiness and a lack of joy are, in a certain way, manifestations of the flesh.” (pages 3-4). While this may be hard hitting, I think it is a necessary reminder to those of us who follow Christ. Through the rest of the book, Sproul provides a good explanation of how to maintain this joy. Chapter 2 talks about maintaining joy in trials by looking ahead to our future with Christ. Chapter 3 explains that the way to real joy is by ordering our lives accordingly, with Christ first, others next, and ourselves last (the acronym that spells JOY: Jesus, Others, Yourself). Chapter 4 reminds us that our greatest joy comes from salvation in Christ. And chapter 5 instructs us on how to maintain joy, by continuing to abide in Christ, receiving His joy as our own.
I believe this book does a wonderful job of providing a theology of joy for the Christian. It may not be the deepest look at the issue (it is not intended to be), but at such a quick read, I am sure it will be one that I will revisit as I feel myself needing a reminder of what it means to be joyful in Christ.
I would encourage anyone who wants to pursue joy in the Christian life to pick up this book. You won’t regret it.
Note: I received this book as a PDF free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review, and will receive a hard copy as compensation for my review.