It is interesting to me that when people think about sin, we think about the big stuff like murder, adultery, kicking the dog… but we would seldom if ever think of being a grump all day long as a sin. However, in the Bible in Philippians 4:2 we find, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again, rejoice. [Those are commands.] Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” It’s not only a command; it’s repeated twice in the same verse.
Throughout the Bible, joy is described as one of the primary characteristics of God Himself. Jesus said when He was getting ready to leave the earth, “My joy I give to you so that your joy may be complete.” He wants us to be happy. Jesus was not so concerned that the world was too happy when he got here. He was upset that the world was not discovering enough of the joy that God had created it to live with. That’s a whole different thing. To take life and choose to preset – the reason I like the word “preset” is, I think you have to choose it in advance. You have to determine, “Am I going to be a crotchity old grump all the time or am I going to operate on a higher, happier, joyful level? Am I going to give joy away or am I going to be one of those people that others are happy to not be around?”
I read a story recently that may be helpful here. It’s the story of a little bird who went north and south with the flock for several years. Then one year he discovered that you could hang out around the farmer’s barnyard and when he’s feeding the chickens, it’s like free food. You’re not hunted down. It’s always on time every day. So when the rest of the flock got ready to fly south for the winter this bird decided, “Not me and not this year. No way. This is too good. I’m staying. I’m tired of that long flight.” He stayed a little too long. So when the winter weather blew in and he began to freeze to death, he remembered, “Now I remember why you’re supposed to go south.” So a little bit late he took to the air and got caught in one of those ice storms that happens in the Midwest. He probably hadn’t gone 100 yards when he was trying to flap his wings, and they iced over and he couldn’t even move. He went into a nosedive and plowed himself right into a cow pasture just 100 yards from the barnyard. He realized, “I am going to die! Stupid me. I’m freezing to death. I’m shivering. I’m bruised from the fall. I’m going to sit here and die.”
About that time, as if life wasn’t bad enough, a cow walked by and dropped a plop right on him. The indignity of it all! Now, cow plops when they first drop are warm. The bird realized, “This is warm. I’m feeling better already. All the ice is melting.” Then the outside of the cow plop began to harden against the winter weather and kind of turned into an igloo. Then in just a matter of about an hour the bird went from, “I’m going to die!” to “I’m going to live!” He began to get so excited and joyful, he began to sing out like birds do. About that time a coyote was coming across the cow pasture when he heard this cow plop singing. He went over to check it out, knocked off the cow plop part, found the bird and ate it.
That story has three lessons we can draw from it:
Lesson number one, not everybody who drops a plop on you is your enemy.
Lesson number two, not everybody who takes that stuff off of you is your friend.
Lesson number three, if things are not going well in your life, keep your mouth shut.
Life goes better if you choose joy.