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Pure Joy

Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord. Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts. They do not compromise with evil, and they walk only in his paths. You have charged us to keep your commandments carefully. Oh, that my actions would consistently reflect your decrees! Then I will not be ashamed when I compare my life with your commands. As I learn your righteous regulations, I will thank you by living as I should! Psalm 119:1-7 (NLT)

It was almost time for bed when my brother and I decided to relax and watch a television program that we’ve watched many times before. Only it turned out not to be relaxing at all. Instead, we were shocked, disgusted, and appalled when in less than 4 minutes the show introduced a perverse story line, explained how this perversion took place, and began persuading the public at large that this clearly anti-Biblical lifestyle was normal and acceptable. (We know this much only because it was introduced so casually and quickly that it took us a minute to realize what was happening.) As soon as we caught on, we moved on.

When a little research showed that this was going to be a new plot line, we deleted the program from our DVR recording schedule. (We record everything at our house because my brother hates commercials). We will not be watching this show again because continuing watching at this point would be compromising with sin. Instead, we choose to live up to a higher standard. A few days later, my brother and I were faced with another choice, only this time it was a fellow Christian challenging us to give up a long held personal conviction. They argued that our commitment was illogical and old-fashioned and we needed to “get with the times”. Once again we were faced with the choice to compromise our conviction and participate in an activity that was kind of tempting or choose once again to stick to our higher standard. (We chose to stick with our conviction) Both of these incidents made me start thinking about why we continue to choose to live by a higher standard. As I thought about why we continue to make these decisions, I have to admit it isn’t just because we want to avoid the potential punishment that may come with sin. (Although that would be a good reason). Instead, I believe that God rewards people when they choose to hold to the standards and principles in His Word. Personally, I don’t want to do anything that would interfere with God’s blessing, His favor, or His anointing on our lives. No compromise is worth that. None.

Much like the young Hebrews who chose to obey God's commands even when they had the opportunity and really were commanded to disobey, we have found that when we choose to take the risk and obey God, God blesses your choice. (Daniel 1:8-21) “But aren’t you afraid you’re missing out on something?” Honestly, no. The truth is that over the years I’ve learned that compromise does not fill my life with joy. However, holding fast to the principles in God’s Word fills my heart with joy and peace. It’s like the Scripture above says, Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord. Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts. The truth is that the principles of God’s Word aren’t keeping good things from us—they are simply protecting us from the false advertising of things that look good but only produce pain and heartache in our lives. I honestly have no regrets for anytime that I’ve chosen to cling to God’s higher standards for living. Unfortunately, my regrets come from times when I’ve compromised and believed the lie that there would be joy in compromise. News flash: There is not. As I read this Psalm 119 this morning, I was once again reminded of this truth: —True joy comes from knowing God’s Word and obeying it. —True joy comes from clinging to God’s standards even if society or some in the church disagree. —If you want to live a happy and joy-filled life, one of the keys is learning God’s Word and obeying it without compromise. I believe that this is a truth that we need to remember always, but especially this time of year. The truth is that there will be plenty of opportunities in the next few weeks to compromise for the sake of “fun” and “celebration”. At parties and social events, there will be people who will question your commitment to a higher standard or accuse you of trying to ruin their fun. As you’re facing these situations I want to remind you that: First, you are not alone in your commitment to living by Biblical principles. As a friend reminded me, there are lots of people who are quietly living by God's standards and living without compromise. Second, true joy cannot be found in compromise.

The party isn’t more fun on the sinful side of the fence. Instead, true, long term joy comes when we choose to follow God’s Word in every situation, to live out our Christianity in all circumstances, and to maintain the higher standard that we are called to as followers of Jesus Christ. Finally, even as we live up to a higher standard, we can still have A TON of fun.

The truth is that even without compromising with sin, Jamie and I are still going to have a blast this Christmas season. There’s lots of fun and joy within the boundaries of God’s Laws. The best part is that there are no regrets the next morning. So my encouragement: Go out and have a blast this Christmas season—-but do it while still maintaining your commitment to live by the higher standards of God’s Word and your personal convictions. No matter what anyone says, do not compromise. Instead, choose joy by choosing hold fast to your commitment to following God’s Laws found in His Word. I truly believe you’ll be glad you did.

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