Joy in God is not a cherry on top of the Christian life.
Our deep and enduring happiness in who God is sits near the very heart of what it means to be His. Therefore, to not enjoy God is a very dangerous thing. If God is your greatest treasure, your joy keeps you safe in at least two ways.
Are you in spiritual danger? If you were, how would you know?
One key sign of spiritual danger is losing your joy. Don’t skim past what Paul says at the end of Philippians 3:1: “Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you.” Paul reminds them to rejoice because it is safe.
Joy is one of the vital gauges on the dashboard of the Christian life. When the needle dips — when you lose your joy — you should take note. To stay safe, you need to pay attention to your joy.
How does this work? Here’s an illustration.
Coal miners know that dangerous gases can gather silently and secretly in the tunnels. Carbon monoxide will asphyxiate them. Methane explodes.
A methane explosion took the lives of 12 men in the 2006 Sago mine disaster in West Virginia. In 1906, almost 1,100 miners were killed in Courrières, France in one massive chain of explosions.
But in the early days of coal mining, they found an effective, low-tech solution: They brought canaries into the mines. A canary’s metabolism is very sensitive to air quality. As long as the bright yellow birds chirp and sing, miners know the air is safe. If gas levels rise, the canaries stop singing, wobble on their perch, and eventually fall to the floor of the cage.
Christian joy is like that singing, yellow bird. One of the first effects of sin or doctrinal error is that we lose our joy in Christ. When your heart stops singing, that is a warning to watch your life and doctrine closely.