During my years-long season of legalism, I developed in my head a very serious, dour, stern picture of God. I viewed Him as being up in heaven with His arms metaphorically crossed, just waiting for me to slip up and make a mistake. Through a wrong interpretation of 1 Peter 3:3-4 which speaks to women being meek and quiet, I believed it was wrong for me to be too joyous, too loud, too boisterous, or too full of life. Because of this, I restrained who I was deep down, quieted my excitable personality, and attempted to be what one person once described me as at the time – prim and proper.
Looking back, I was incredibly stifled and constrained and living contrary to how God designed my personality. But because I didn’t understand His nature as being a God of celebration, joy, freedom, and beauty, I wrongly thought He was a dour and serious God expecting us to also present ourselves in those same ways.
If you have ever faced this same struggle, I have good news for you! God has never and will never expect you to walk through life somber and joyless. Here are 4 points I want you to keep in mind if ever you feel tempted to believe that lie again.
David danced exuberantly before God – and God was ok with that!
Second Samuel 6:14-16 says, “Then David danced before the Lord with all his might; and David was wearing a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting and with the sound of the trumpet. Now as the ark of the Lord came into the City of David, Michal, Saul’s daughter, looked through a window and saw King David leaping and whirling before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart.”
Michal was the prim and proper one – not David. While Michal despised David’s actions, God had no problem with them. In fact, He seemed to delight in David’s joy and celebration because we are later told in verse 23 that God caused Michal to remain barren for the rest of her life because of how she had despised David’s dancing and praising before the Lord. This is serious, friends! If we are causing others to believe that it is wrong to show forth an exuberant joy, we need to repent and change our message.
God wants us to enjoy His creation!
There are entire Psalms are dedicated to pointing out the beauty of creation and encouraging readers to enjoy it! Other Psalms speak to creation itself crying out for joy before the Lord. Specific ones you might want to look up are Psalm 96:11-12, Psalm 19:1, Psalm 104:24-25, and Psalm 33:5.
Additional passages make it clear that God wants us to be joyful people. For example, Psalm 118:24 says, “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 149:5 says, “Let the godly exult in glory; let them sing for joy on their beds.” Psalm 16:11, one of my personal favorites, says this: “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
In His presence is not a somber, downcast, seriousness. Rather, in His presence there is joy. And not only joy, but fullness of joy! This is important to remember when we think about witnessing to people, as well. Do you think we will tangibly proclaim and attract people to the goodness of the Lord by being somber and serious all the time? Or will they see the beauty and joy of being a Christ-follower when we live the Christian walk with joy and celebration?
The joy of the Lord is the very thing that is to be our strength!
Nehemiah 8:10b says, “the joy of the Lord is your strength”. Joy is not something that is just barely ok to have or somewhat acceptable in the life of a Christian. No, far from it, friend! The joy of the Lord is where our very strength comes from! That joy comes from knowing who God is, what He has done in our lives, and how much He loves us. And it is that joy which brings honor and glory to His name as we recount the many ways in which He has been a faithful Father in time past.
We can know that God’s desire is for us to have joy and celebration in our lives because Christ Himself said this in John 15:11 – “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” If we know the Lord and His glorious grace and unwavering promises, it is only natural that we would be joyful people!
Jesus’ first miracle was at a wedding reception!
I don’t believe for a moment that it was a coincidence that Jesus’ first miracle occurred at a wedding feast. Throughout Scripture we find that our God is a God of celebration. The Israelites weren’t just told to observe the Sabbath in the Old Testament. They were told to celebrate it (see Leviticus 23:32)! Jesus regularly practiced hospitality, delighting in hosting meals and other celebrations at the table. Feast days and festivals in the Old Testament were important times of celebration. Naturally, Jesus’ first miracle would occur at a celebration!
Countless passages of the Bible speak to believers praising God, celebrating His good works, and delighting in His ways and Word. Friend, I want to encourage you today to take time to do that very thing. Spend time in nature, go to a party, throw a party for someone, have a dance party with friends, listen to praise and worship music, take joy from the giggle of a baby, the smell of a rose, or the thrill of a roller coaster. Make time for what fills you up and brings you joy. You just might find that doing so leads to you glorifying God in the process!