Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Joy of Abiding

Most of us in the church have heard John 15:11 quoted many times. In this verse, Jesus tells His disciples, "These things I have spoken to you that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be full." We often focus on the later half of the verse (to have full joy or any joy is a good thing, after all), but we fail to consider what those "things" were to which Jesus referred.

In the preceding verses, Jesus explains that He is the true vine, God the Father is the vinedresser, and we (the body of Christ) are the branches. Throughout verses 1-10, He stresses the vital importance of our abiding in Him, of allowing His words to abide in us, and of our abiding in His love. The consequences of our failing to abide are severe: a lack of fruit and a kind of spiritual death. However, the consequences of our obedient abiding are wonderful: Jesus' joy and joy to the full. (Note that Jesus did not say enough joy to get us by; He said a full joy!)

Here are some definitions of "abide," courtesy of "
1. to remain; continue; stay 2. to have one's abode; dwell; reside 3. to continue in a particular condition, attitude, relationship, etc.; last." Take a moment and chew on that definition as relates to our abiding in Christ. We are to remain in Him, to make our dwelling with Him, to continue in a relationship with Him. We would not expect a relationship with a friend to continue on a good level if we rarely communicated. Should we expect it to be any different in our relationship with Christ?

When we fail to abide in Christ, we dry out and whither up, and consequently bear poor fruit, if any at all, and we lack joy. Here is an example: When I get caught up with taking care of my sweet baby girl and my wonderful husband, keeping the house clean, cooking meals, running, and all the other tasks in my day, I can forget God. I don't mean that I forget to have my quiet time. I mean that I forget God. (Just keeping it real.) I forget that He's there inside me, around me. I forget the vital importance of abiding in Him and communing with Him. And when I fail to commune with God, my attitude reflects it. My life begins exhibiting very poor fruit...being short-tempered, frazzled, impatient, unkind, unloving. And I get sad and even depressed. On the other hand, when I remember to speak to God as freely as inhaling and exhaling, then abiding in Him reminds me of His awesome love and mercy. And because I am reminding of His love and mercy toward me, a wretched sinner, I am better able to fulfill Jesus' commands to love others and to show them mercy. And what joy there is in that!

So, ask yourself these questions: Am I abiding in Christ and in His love? Am I bearing good fruit for the sake of Christ and for the glory of God? Am I experiencing Jesus' joy to the full? I pray today that you will know the joy of abiding in Christ, of allowing His words to abide in you, and of abiding in His love.

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