January 2, 2013

So that our Joy may be Complete

“These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.”
1 John 1.4

Those words struck me as I read them this past week. They are, of course, the apostle John’s rationale for writing his first little gospel letter. He was writing, yes, for the benefit of his readers – to help them know whether or not they were truly in the faith. More importantly, John was also surely writing for the glory of God – just the way a Christian ought to do every task, whether he particularly enjoys it or not! But John did enjoy writing this letter! In fact, he wrote it precisely because he knew that doing so would contribute to his own joy! Writing it, he said in verse 3, would bring his readers into fellowship with himself and his fellow apostles; and, more than that, into fellowship “with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.” And what gladness would spring up in John’s heart because of it!

Indeed, what better privilege can any of us have than to communicate the good news of Jesus such that people come to be a part of God’s family; and thus, a part of ours as well? Or such that those who are already in the family become more integral to it? That is what happens when we communicate Bible truth (either in writing, like John; or verbally, and in person) – people come into (or farther into) the household of faith! And when they do, our joy is made complete!

Do you want 2013 to be the most joyful year yet? Do you want to smile more, and sing more, and praise God more, and be more content? Listen to the apostles’ secret of joy: “These things we write” – and email, and tweet, and preach, and share across the cafeteria table, and teach to our children – “so that our joy may be made complete”!

So then … will you do two things this year?

First, if you receive benefit from these few lines, posted week-by-week, will you pray for their usefulness, and for their author? Perhaps when a particular article is helpful to you, just stop and pray that the Lord will make it so for many other people … bringing them into (or deeper into) fellowship with God and His people. That would bring me great joy … and the Father, Son, and Spirit great glory!

Second, will you consider how it is that your own joy may be made complete in 2013? To whom do you need to write or speak about Jesus – “the Word of Life” (1 John 1.1) who “was manifested to us” (v.2), and whose blood (v.7) “cleanses us from all sin”? Who, in the year ahead, might come into fellowship with God, and with His people, through your diligent witness? It may be a one-time encounter, in which you walk him or her through the simple gospel from beginning to end. It may be through a series of letters, intentionally leading someone, by the hand, to Jesus. It may be through a one-on-one Bible reading – say, through the gospel of Luke. Or it may be that, here and there, you simply sow dozens of little seeds that God will continue watering in ways you know not – so that, by your sowing in hope, heaven’s population will be bigger than you thought!

Whether you see these various people coming into fellowship with Christ and with His bride now; or whether you never know what God did with that seed until heaven – one thing is sure: If you will write and speak the gospel in 2013, your joy will be made complete!

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