We look to the teachings of Paul to learn how to cultivate genuine joy in our lives

The office of our family trucking company had a sign which read, "Everyone who passes through these doors brings joy. Some when they enter, others as they leave."

In Ephesians 5: 25-32, Paul suggests three joy-bringing actions.

First, Paul encourages us to choose our words carefully.

Words make a difference.

My mom told me that, "sticks and stones could break my bones, but words would never hurt me."

I have had broken bones, and they healed reasonably quickly. Some words have left wounds that linger for years.

Paul says two things about our words.

He says truthfulness is important. Verse 25 reads, "Each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor."

He also says our words should be respectful, encouraging and helpful.

Verse 29 reads, "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen."

People who are truthful, respectful, encouraging and helpful bring joy!

Paul talks about our disposition.

As my friend Neil Harris said, "Even if we don't garden, there are weeds in our garden."

And weeds are irritating. The key is maturely handling those irritations.

Paul has two suggestions.

First, he says in verse 26 that we should be proactive.

"In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry."

In the words of my friend Kup, "Deal with it."

If we don't deal with it, we tend to dwell on it. Untreated irritations tend to fester and become inflamed.

In verse 31, Paul warns us to avoid the inflammation of untreated irritations.

"Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice."

In verse 32, he prescribes a treatment, "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."

People with even dispositions who are kind, compassionate and forgiving bring joy!

Finally, Paul recommends a healthy work ethic and generosity.

He addresses this idea in verse 28 writing that, "Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need."

"Put your shoulder to the wheel" is a time-tested saying that teaches us to pitch in and do our part. After all, we have often heard that many hands make light work.

Life is a team game. If we all pitch in helping and sharing what we have, we will bring joy!

The question is, do we bring joy when the door swings in or out?

Dan Parks is the pastor at Prineville Christian Church. He can be reached at 541-447-7603.

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