I am going to be honest with you. I never liked this statement. As someone who values responsibility, this statement seemed to promote a kind of frivolous lifestyle free from consequences. Regardless of what will happen or how it affects others, if it makes you happy, by all means, do it. Nope, I was not having it.
But I began to reflect on it differently when I considered some of the things in life that we can find difficult to do from time to time. Do you recognize any of these?
"I want to change my diet but..."
"I want to discipline this child but..."
"I want to be set boundaries with x person but..."
"I want to do what I believe God is calling me to do,
but I am afraid of what those who know me will think about me..."
Before you begin to feel discouraged about these and any other thinking patterns you might have or hear from others, I have good news.
You can do it for the joy.
In other words, let joy be your motivation. Instead of doing hard things because "you should" or it's the "right thing" - flip your thinking. Thinking like this might leave you feeling burdened and guilty when you do not measure up. For example, you don't have to discipline your child because that is what an ideally good parent does. You can discipline your child because you want to be a happy mother or father. Proverbs 29:17 (NIV) said it best, "Discipline your children, and they will give you peace; they will bring you the delights you desire." You're happy and you make God's word shine by living it out. It's a win-win. Make the sacrifice, say no, and let go of your pride because there's something up ahead that cannot be compared to the pain or frustration you feel now.
Here are three ways that I am using joy as my motivation:
Why do I cut up and freeze my seasoning (onions, pepper, etc.) when I come from the supermarket?
Immediate Joy: I can cook quickly and easily in the week and spend more time resting and relaxing.
Why do I work to maintain my exercise routine in the mornings?
Long-term Joy: I will be more healthy, agile and flexible as I get older. I want to look good too (lol!)
Why do I push beyond my fears and frustrations to write, lead and steward my time and resources?
Eternal Joy: I want to hear, 'well done my good and faithful servant...come and share your master's happiness!' from my Heavenly Father and Judge. (Matthew 25:23, NIV)
The joy at the end of your sacrifice is incomparable. I'm writing this now because Jesus Christ sacrificed for the joy.
"...fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:2, NIV, emphasis added)
What are three things that I want to do but find it hard to do?
How can I flip my thinking and use joy as my motivation?