where love is alive 

Joy or Sorrow? Positive or Negative? The Choice is Ours!

           As Jay has been taking us through a series of Sunday morning messages on joy, I’ve been led to consider different ways I can seek, recognize, and accept the joy God provides for me.  Alternately, I’ve thought about the opposite:  why do I sometimes fall into a trap of despair?  Another way of describing the difference is blessing and curse.  As the title of the article indicates, we have a choice.  Deuteronomy 30:19 tells us that God has “set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live.”

Negative attitudes leak out, don’t they?  Matthew 12:34b says, “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” (NKJV)  It’s true!  What fills us up tends to leak out through our lips.  What happens when we’re filled with the joy of the Lord?  Proverbs 10:11 tells us, “The mouth of the righteous is a well of life…” (NKJV)  There are many reasons to avoid the defeat of negativity, but I want to list three good ones here.

  1. A Negative Attitude is Self-Fulfilling. Proverbs 23:7 says, “As a man thinks in his heart, so he is”  If we dwell on the negative, we will more likely experience the negative.  That outlook will taint our view of everything and justify itself with startling consistency.
  2. Negativity is a two-fold obstacle to our witness. First, going back to Matthew 12:34, we see that negative on the inside is going to show on the outside, thus damaging our testimonies.  Folks don’t want to hear a grouchy malcontent speak on the love of Jesus!  Would you?  Secondly, there’s the matter of a stained outlook.  Pop quiz:  I’m going along fostering a negative mindset and encounter a person who needs to hear the Gospel.  Am I more likely to eagerly grasp that opportunity or give in to my prevailing mood and decide I’ll be wasting my time as well as theirs?  There’s more at stake than we might want to believe.
  3. Negativity = disobedience. Scripture is clear:   John 6:43 “Stop grumbling among yourselves.” Philippians 2:14 “Do everything without grumbling or arguing.” 1Peter 4:9 “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” Numbers 11:1 “Now the people complained about their circumstances in the hearing of the Lord, and when He heard them his anger was aroused.” Just to list a few…

Finally, think about this, beyond any circumstance, don’t we have every reason to be positive and joyful?  One of my favorite verses, Romans 8:18, says, “Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory He will reveal to us later.”  A God-centered perspective viewed through the lens of eternity is the perfect prescription for being a “well of life” and avoiding a sewer of defeat.



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