In the same way, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who changes both heart and life than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need to change their hearts and lives.
Luke 15:7 CEB
Joy is a slippery word. People often use it in place of happiness, but joy is so much more than feeling happy in the moment. Joy is something you feel with your whole heart. It fills us up.
The verse above doesn’t say there will be people in Heaven who say, “Another sinner has changed his heart and life. Well, that’s nice.” There will be joy. Heart-thumping, fist-pumping, shout-out-your-excitement joy.
If a changed sinner receives that sort of recognition in Heaven, what sort of recognition should they receive on Earth? Shouldn’t we welcome them with the same joyfulness?
It’s easy to pat a new convert on the head, hand them a cheap Bible, and say, “Well, that’s nice. Make sure you read Romans.” But where’s the joy in that? Where’s the influence of the Holy Spirit in that?
Instead, we should be willing to open ourselves up to joy. If a person has changed both their heart and their life, they’ve done something amazing. How many people manage to pull off something like that? Let’s recognize these transformations for the miracles that they are and rejoice alongside our new brothers and sisters.
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Please open me up so that I can experience joy. Help me to reflect your divine joy as I interact with others.
Kristy Burmeister writes about stalkers, church-related trauma, feminism, and pie (pretty much in that order) at kristyburmeister.com. She's currently working on a memoir about a church that almost got her murdered when she was a teenager. (Spoiler: She's still alive.)