Joy is like observing a monarch butterfly that flitters up before you in sudden and swift movements that captures your attention. But its the beauty and the bright colors that draws you in. You long for it to come and land on your outstretched finger as if to be a part of its freedom and the release it brings. We long for sustaining joy in our lives because so often joy tends to be fleeting. It hovers and dances around us and remains difficult, even impossible to capture and claim as our own.
This morning I cam upon the following words; “You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.” (Heb 1:9)
In ancient times, whenever a guest arrives at your home, the symbol of providing great honor to your guest was to anoint their head with oil. The heads of kings were anointed with oil as if to signify that they have been been chosen for this high position. The anointing with oil was a conferring of status, honor, royalty, and prestige.
Faith in God receives many benefits. Not only does faith receive eternal life in heaven and the certainty of receiving a room in God’s dwelling place, but there are distinct benefits associated with that promise. One of those rewards is status. By faith, we are declared righteous and forgiven right now — not because of what we have done or plan to do, but what God has already done for us. Furthermore, we are adopted as his child. We are conferred to be royal as sons and daughters of the Almighty King. Attached to that status is honor and prestige. It is like God has spiritually anointed our head with oil. That is our position. This is our status. We are reminded that along with that status we not only received joy and comfort, but more importantly, the joy of the One who is conferring that status upon us.
That joy does not have to be fleeting. It does not flitter away like a butterfly. But that’s what the world tends to do. Like thieves in the night, we are daily robbed of joy that is bestowed upon us. One of those robbers is named “Comparison.” He fools us into thinking that joy can only be received when we are to be like someone else. Whether to covet their possessions, their riches, their beauty, or their successes, we believe that having what others have will satisfy the longings of our heart. “Comparison” tricks us into performing to an impossible standard. Whether through the media, or even parents, we strive to achieve what the world thinks we ought to achieve. And the end result? We are robbed of joy.
The reminder for this morning is that sustaining joy can be ours. We can taste and feel the anointing oil the Lord confers upon us. Sustaining joy is remembering our status that has already been conferred upon us by faith. The comparisons are gone. We are accepted and worthy. The standards have been met.
“The kingdom of God does not look at outward achievements, but at the heart. It asks whether a heart is ruled by the one true God. If not, outward achievement is meaningless.” (P. Wendland)