Far too many place great emphasis on the material things in life. Many others focus far too much on their "standing" within society. The average American is always seeking a better job, a newer car, a larger house, more recognition, etc... Sadly this is even prevalent among preachers. Many pastors today are unhappy with their current situation. They want a larger church that has more in attendance; they are seeking a larger salary; many are consumed with becoming well known in "preaching circles" so that their phone will ring with more opportunities to preach revivals and other meetings. The fact is, many in America are unhappy with their current situation. For those who are happy, it appears that many are happy for all the wrong reasons.
What if we could achieve all that we believe would bring real joy to our lives? Do you honestly think you would really be happy then? I fear that our focus has become blurred and our emphasis is placed on all the wrong things. Jesus dealt with a group that had achieved great success and were happy with that, but He challenged their reasoning. Consider these few verses.
And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.
Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.
Many of us, particularly preachers, can relate to this passage. Jesus had sent out the seventy, two by two, to prepare the way for His coming and to share His message. They returned rejoicing because of the power they had experienced along the way. I don't think Jesus was rebuking them for being thankful for the power of God in their lives, but it is apparent that they had lost their focus. They were more concerned with what they had accomplished than the fact they were serving the Lord and belonged to Him. Jesus admonished them to be thankful and rejoice for the right reasons. All they had accomplished was great, but that wasn't the greatest. If they had anything to rejoice about, it was the fact that their names were recorded in heaven.
Much of what we rejoice in or look to for happiness will fade away. Even in our service to the Lord we are guilty of loosing our focus and placing the emphasis on the wrong things. I am thankful that the Lord has called me to preach. I am thankful for the opportunities I have each week to preach at Fellowship. I am thankful that I have the privilege of being their pastor. I rejoice for the growth that we are experiencing. However, I need to be thankful most of all that my name is written in heaven. Now, I know that many of you are more spiritual than I am, and your salvation is the focus of your attention. I will admit that often I need to be reminded of the Lord's goodness in my life and offer Him the praise that He is due.
I am thankful for the reminder that I received through this passage. Wealth and status in this life are temporal, but salvation is eternal. What is it that brings joy to you today? I pray that you know Christ as your personal Savior and that your joy is in Him and Him alone. Just some thoughts to ponder as we consider the source of our joy.