In love, let us learn to respect the convictions of one another. Some are ready to enjoy all the liberty the gospel gives. Some are not, and “whatever does not proceed from faith is sin. This calls for sanctified patience with one another. As one commentator puts it, “For a Christian not a single decision and action can be good which he does not think he can justify on the ground of his Christian conviction and his liberty before God in Christ.” Or to put it simply, “If the way you live isn’t consistent with what you believe, then it’s wrong” (Rom. 14:23, MSG).
Sometimes life can feel unbearable. Whether it be the anxiety of a situation, conflict with people, or restless worry over tomorrow, we can easily grow frustrated even cynical, wondering where has the joy of living gone? We have all likely felt this way before, perhaps even today. But sometimes it can be difficult to express what we are feeling, to others, to ourselves, and even to God. But God has neither created nor redeemed us to wallow in the weight of our worries but desires that we cry out to him, giving us not only the privilege but the poetry too.
I wonder how many Christians lead joyless lives because they wallow in the weight of their past sins. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Repent, confess, ask for forgiveness (early and often), and pray for joy. Therefore, we are to consider the trials of this life pure joy, more than happiness, for God is at work in us for our good and his glory.
Are we really supposed to pray about everything? Don’t divorce this word from the context. Contextually, “everything” means: If it is a matter that tempts you to worry, that makes you anxious, then it must be a matter of prayer. Pray about these things.
The term joy is often misunderstood by modern Christians because of the way it is defined and used in our culture today. Joy is often considered a synonym for happiness, which in modern use is understood as more sentimental than substantive.