“And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.”
If you talk to folks about ministry, you find that there are a variety of motivations which people refer to as the reasons why they do what they do. We speak of equipping the saints, transforming our communities, saving souls, etc…, but we don’t often hear someone say, “Serving makes my joy complete!” Now don’t get me wrong, equipping, transforming, and saving are all legitimate motives for ministry, and each can be justified biblically; however, I think John provides us with an all too often overlooked motive for ministry when he refers to “joy being made complete.”
In 1 John 1:1-3, John told his readers that he had found the meaning of life in Jesus. He described the way Jesus is life itself, how he has always been in relationship with the Father, and how through him, we have now been invited to partake in the very life and communion of God. I don’t know about you, but those facts alone are enough to make me pretty joyful. However, in 1 John 1:4, John tells us that while he is indeed enjoying life in Christ; he can’t keep it to himself. In fact, he tells us that in order to keep the joy he is experiencing in Christ continually being filled to the brim; he has to share with others.
John tells his readers that he writes so that “χαρὰ ἡμῶν ᾖ πεπληρωμένη,” or that the “joy of us might be complete.” (Reading it in the Greek always reminds me of how Yoda talks.) The “complete” part is in what is called the perfect tense and passive voice, and this is really cool. John is saying that while he has experienced this joy in the past, when he shares it with others; God causes his joy to overflow and remain full up. Christian, are you joyful today? If not, maybe it’s because you aren’t ministering to others. I’ll just go ahead and say it; there is a direct correlation between your personal joy and ministering to others.
We are not to keep the life we have found in Jesus to ourselves! So many Christians have the mindset that says, “Whew, thank God I’ve escaped hell. Now, I’ll just try to hang on.” These dear brothers and sisters are usually cold, bitter, and lifeless, and a large part of it is due to the fact that they aren’t ministering to anyone else. Remember the story of Jesus and the woman at the well? Jesus was tired and hungry, so the disciples went off to get some food, and when they got back; apparently, Jesus was revitalized in someway. When they urged him to eat he said, “I have food you don’t know about. My food is to do the will of the Father.” Ministry!
Do you need personal “revival”? Are you in a present state of overflowing joy? Well, don’t just sit there; get busy! Share the life you have in Jesus with those around you, and not only will they be changed; your joy will be made complete.