“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from Your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” (Psalm 51:10-12)
As Christians, we are called to have joy. Jesus promises true joy to those who wholly follow Him in John 15:11: “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” Yet, it is easy to let the things of the world deter us from this joy in our relationship with Christ.
Psalm 51 is a plea for pardon after David’s sin with Bathsheba, and this sin had taken away his joy. He was convicted, guilty, and in anguish. He knew that God could not tolerate sin, and that He delights only in truth (verse 6). Yet, David was still aware of the Lord’s enduring love. He pleads for God’s forgiveness and mercy, despite his utter unworthiness of grace. In Psalm 51:10-12, we read of David praying to God to restore his joy. This chapter teaches us that our joy can be lost, taken away by Satan himself. Worldly desires may bring temporary pleasure, but our true joy comes from living in Christ (Nehemiah 8:10).
So when sin gets entangled in our lives and we find ourselves sapped of the joy that we once had in the Lord, what can we do to find it again?
First, we must remember our salvation. If you are a New Testament Christian, you are among the most blessed people in the entire world! You have been saved from eternal punishment and given new life in your Savior (Romans 6:1-4). We can truly say along with David in Psalm 20:5, “May we shout for joy over your salvation, and in the name of our God set up our banners! May the Lord fulfill all your petitions!” Delighting in our salvation will lead us to a deeper and more active faith, which will bring even more joy (Philippians 1:25). In 2 Peter 1:5-10, we are told how to keep our redemption on the forefront of our minds. “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.” Let us never become so comfortably caught up in our everyday lives that we forget about the greatest gift we’ve ever received–Jesus Christ.
Second, we must remember our service. In the book of Philippians, Paul emphasizes that participating in the lives of others gives us real joy. Paul’s prayers for the church at Philippi were made with joy (1:3), and he rejoiced that others were hearing Christ proclaimed (1:18). Later in 2:3-5, we see Jesus’ ultimate example: “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” Hebrews 12:2 tells us that Christ, “who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross”, gave His life as a sacrifice for the whole world. It was a joy to Him to serve, as it should be for all of us as His followers. Serving like Jesus includes taking on the purpose He had on earth, which was “to seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10). When others see our joy, they will see that we have something important to share.
Finally, we must remember to keep the Spirit. Three times in Psalm 51:10-12 we read of the Spirit that should dwell in us: a “right spirit, the “Holy Spirit”, and a “willing spirit”. As Christians, we receive the Holy Spirit when we are immersed in water for the forgiveness of our sins (Acts 2:38). As we continue to walk with the Lord, our bodies become His temple and dwelling place (1 Corinthians 6:19). Ephesians 5:18 tells us to be filled with the Spirit. This means that when we give our life to the Lord, we are literally to be under His influence through His inspired Word (Ephesians 6:17). Thus, the “fruit of the Spirit” will naturally be seen in our life. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:21-25) Notice that one of these fruits is joy! If we want to restore our joy, we must remember the Spirit dwelling in us, Who in turn gives us the best joy ever to be found.
“But the righteous shall be glad; they shall exult before God; they shall be jubilant with joy!” (Psalm 68:3) As we have seen from Scripture, our joy can be restored by remembering our salvation, service, and the Spirit who dwells in us. Are you, not only happy with, but joyful about your life in Christ?