Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Great Commission: Spreading Joy Wherever We Go

Reading: Psalm 32   
Does it strike you as odd that my title describes the Great Commission as “spreading joy wherever we go”? Maybe you are running through the Gospel accounts of the commissioning of the disciples and trying to think if there is a reference to joy. If that is not odd enough, how about that I am writing a devotional on Psalm 32 and referencing the Great Commission? But it came to me as I was read Psalm 32 this morning...
1How joyful is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered!
2How joyful is the man the Lord does not charge with sin and in whose spirit is no deceit! (Psalm 32:1-2 HCSB)
Forgiveness of sins produces joy. It might well be said that our joy as believers is directly proportional to our realization of just how forgiven we are, and just how much we've been forgiven. We are as joyful as we are forgiven and realize it.
We see this in Luke 7:36-50, the story of the woman in Simon's house who washes Jesus' feet with her tears and dries them with her hair. The point there is directly made between forgiveness and love. He who is forgiven much loves much (Luke 7:47). But one has no doubt in reading the account, that though she was weeping, they were tears of joy. This was a joyous love—like that of a bride on the day of their wedding. This joyous, even weeping for joy, love is directly proportional to just how much we know that our sins are forgiven.
So, as I read these verses it struck me that one way we could express the Great Commission is that we are called to spread joy wherever we go.
46He also said to them, "This is what is written: the Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead the third day, 47and repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48You are witnesses of these things. (Luke 24:46-48 HCSB)
So, as believers in the Lord Jesus, not only are we filled with joy and peace in our believing (Romans 15:13), we have the privilege and delight of being able to spread that joy wherever we go as we proclaim repentance for forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ. No wonder the angel said it this way, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” (Luk 2:10) And no wonder that my favorite Christmas Carol (God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen) repeats the refrain,
O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy, O tidings of comfort and joy.
Increase your joy by contemplating the glorious good news of having your sins washed clean in Jesus Christ. Increase the joy of the world by spreading the tidings of comfort and joy in Jesus Christ!
Love the Gospel, Live the Gospel, Advance the Gospel,

(For more on the connection between joy and forgiveness read How Joyful Are You?)