Four Steps to Christmas Joy

For those who don’t follow Jesus, Christmas must seem a bit odd. Behind all the trappings of the season, what’s the big deal about celebrating the birth of a baby named Jesus? And for Christians, sometimes this time of year can be confusing for us as well, for different reasons. Sometimes it isn’t as joyous as it seems like it should be.

What’s the Bible have to say? The Apostle John addresses these issues in his second letter. Here are four verses from 2 John with corresponding ways we should respond if we want to experience what John describes as complete joy.

For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. (2 John 7, ESV)

First, receive this child as God in the flesh. The story of Christmas is that God loved the world so much that he sent his Son into the world so we might have life (John 3:16). To reject Jesus as the Son of God, John says, is it to be an antichrist. You’ll never know the joy of Christmas if you reject the truth of Christ. If you’re not a follower of Jesus, consider this baby who literally changed the world.

And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it. (2 John 6, ESV)

Second, walk in his truth, in his commands. For those who follow Jesus, we know the self-inflicted pain of disobedience. Sin steals our joy. If you want to experience joy this Christmas, confess your waywardness to God. He is faithful and just. He will forgive you and cleanse you from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Ask him for the strength to walk in his ways. Experience the joy of repentance and obedience.

And now I ask you, dear lady—not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning—that we love one another. (2 John 5, ESV)

A third thing we see in this passage is the command to love one another. The things that keep us from loving one another are the very things that keep us from knowing God’s joy: jealousy, gossiping, a lack of forgiveness, envy, and the like. Christian, if you want to experience joy: forgive, let go of the grudge, rejoice with those who rejoice, grieve with those who grieve, assume the best . . . love! It’s the path to joy.

Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete. (2 John 12, ESV)

Finally, John says that he is eager to be with them face to face so that their joy might be complete. How beautiful is that?! He is penning inspired and authoritative Scripture that will stand the test of time for the building up of the church. But he’s ready to put the pen down to celebrate these truths with them in person. Don’t isolate yourself this Christmas. Be with other followers of Jesus with whom you can “repeat the sounding joy.”

If you want to know the joy of Christmas: receive Jesus as God in the flesh, walk in his commands, love one another, and celebrate these truths with other Christians. These things won’t make all of your troubles go away. We still live in a fallen world. But it will change your heart and begin to fill it with a joy that is inexpressible and full of glory (1 Peter 1:8).