Life is complex. Its complexity encompasses a wide range of associations. There are interpersonal relationships and the most complex relationship of all, one's relationship with self. Efforts to maintain balance between self, others, and our relation to God, can create a life of gloom and despair. The atmosphere of melancholy worsens when we confront the teaching that the Christian life is a joyous life (Romans 14:17; 15:13 & 32). Knowing that the Christian should be the happiest person on earth, but being without joy, serves to add to the depression felt by the troubled Christian. Thus begins a downward spiral into an emotional pit of darkness that drains all spiritual energy from the Christian. The results are half-hearted efforts and feelings of constant turmoil.

Everyone wants to be happy. Millions of dollars are spent upon doctors, medications, and recreation in a desperate attempt to find happiness and peace of mind. If one measured the ability to be happy by the success of these efforts, they would conclude that joy and peace are unattainable goals.

The problem is not whether or not these emotions are attainable but whether or not we are willing to put forth the effort to accomplish them in our lives.

The Christian life is a jubilant life. However, this jubilation does not just happen. It takes effort on the part of the Christian to have joy and peace in his or her life. The following will suggest some areas wherein the Christian can obtain a life of joy and peace.

Paul experienced the internal conflict that is characteristic of all those who desire to do righteousness (Romans 7:21-25). It is important that each Christian understand he or she is not unique in their struggles with sin. All Christians must fight this battle with self. The sin is not in the struggle, and Christians do not need to beat themselves up over their internal feelings. Sin comes when we allow those feelings to be brought to fruition (James 1:13-15).

The interpersonal relationships sustained by Christians are sometimes a source of conflict and pain. It is hard to 'get along' with one another. It is like one Christian said to another Christian, "God loves you and I am trying very hard!"

Christians are not going to always agree. Barnabas and Paul had a serious disagreement over taking John Mark with them on a missionary journey. The disagreement was so great that they parted ways (Acts 15:37-39). Although there was sharp contention between the two men, they did not let it stop them from doing their work.

A hard lesson to learn is that we cannot control anyone but ourselves. Those who do not accept this will be doomed to a life of gloom and despair. People do what they want to do. We are not responsible for those who do not obey the gospel. We are not responsible for the Christian who will not remain faithful. Each person is responsible for themselves (Romans 14:12).

The sooner we learn these lessons the quicker we will have a jubilant life.

By Glen Young

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