For the joy of the Lord is your strength! Nehemiah 8:10 NLT
Buffed bodies and bragging rights. But not me.
The bragging started around middle school. I heard the remarks from male classmates: “I can bench press ….” Or, “I can leg lift …” Or I can squat with ….” I wasn’t one of the braggers. They either played sports—and were trying to build their muscles—or attempted to make an impression on some of the popular girls.
Me? I had no interest in sports. For one thing, I was as skinny as a rail. I could have buffed and toned it and been lean and mean, but I still wouldn’t have made the team. And my interest in girls hadn’t started yet. Nor were they interested in skinny boys—who, by the way, were shy also.
Although only a middle schooler, my joy came not from sports or girls but from another place: my relationship with the Lord. Dad and Mom taught me the need of attending to my relationship with God . . . making Him happy. I attempted this through spiritual disciplines that to me carried more importance than anything else. As a result, the girls ignored me and most of the boys made fun of me. But my joy remained.
As Ezra the priest, Nehemiah the governor, and the Levites read and interpreted God’s Word for the people, the people wept. They realized how far they had fallen below God’s standards. But Nehemiah encouraged them. God would forgive their sins. They needed to find their joy in serving the Lord.
I could have played sports, lifted weights, and served the Lord at the same time. Sports and weightlifting weren’t sinful. I decided, however, to find my joy in spiritual pursuits.
Weeping over sin almost seems a lost art. I’d rather use another word that’s less offensive and picture God as a God who overlooks sins. Sin offends God, but God also forgives when asked. When my slate is clean, I find joy by serving the Lord. Doing so changes my priority list. I don’t have to own certain things to find happiness—which is only momentary. Joy lingers no matter what I have and regardless of my circumstances.
Joy is the overflow of having received Jesus—along with His continual presence—and of living obediently to His principles.
Don’t look for joy anywhere else other than in your relationship with God.
Tell us how you handle self-esteem issues.
Tweetable: Are you satisfied with your body?
Prayer: Father, may the joy we experience be found in our relationship with You.