What makes God rejoice?

In my study of joy over the last year, I readily acknowledge that I have focused primarily on what will bring me joy. What will destroy my joy. What will maximize my joy. It’s been, for the most part, about me. But a couple of times now, I have been confronted with the reality that God also experiences – and even longs for – joy. More specifically, He wants to rejoice over us, His people.

To be certain, that is a pretty staggering concept. The notion that God, who is perfect and holy and all-powerful and omni-everything takes joy in broken, sinful, weak, pathetic me simply blows my mind. But I have realized in my study that it is absolutely true.

And if it is true, I feel that it is appropriate for me to expand my quest to understand, really, what it is that brings joy to and maximizes joy for God. I mean, He wants and enables me to have joy. It seems only fair that I would want and work toward the same for Him.

So, what is it that is going to bring joy to God? It seems like a rather daunting question to answer, but fortunately, in Jeremiah 32:38-41, He provides what amounts to a succinct list of things to do if we want to bring Him joy. I am struck by this notion today, as well as some of the implications which the list have. So I just want to share them, really fast, so that, if nothing else, I will be able to refer back to them later and remember.

  1. “They shall be my people.” God takes joy in being able to claim me as His own. I suppose it’s similar to the feeling I had when Nicole agreed to be my bride. I could call her mine. Not because I had bought her or anything like that, but because she wanted to be mine. God wants me to be His, and while He could compel me to be His with just a word of His mouth, what really brings Him joy is when I want to be His, too.
  2. “I will be their God.” God wants to be owned by me. Again, I guess it’s similar to the feeling that I have knowing that I belong to my wife just as much as she belongs to me. It means that I know she’s going to be there for me. I trust that, while she will never be able to fulfill me completely (i.e., this is not a problem with her; it’s a fact of our broken humanity), she is the one “very good” solution to the one “not good” thing in my life: that I was alone.
  3. “I will give them one heart and one way.” It is a divine paradox that the three distinct Persons of our triune God – the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – are perfectly united in essence and will. This means that all three want and choose to pursue the same objectives, even though they each have their own distinct roles in that purpose. You see, there is a major difference between unity and conformity: conformity is when everyone looks the same, acts the same, is the same. Unity, on the other hand, is when everyone brings a unique perspective, idea, and opinion to the table, but when the final decision is made, that is what everyone wants and pursues God does not take joy in conformity. But He does take joy in unity. I should encourage people to have their own ideas, perspectives, and opinions, and yet, when the final decision is made, I should strive to realize – and want – the same thing. This means that I don’t inject dissent or quarreling or anything else that’s disruptive. And it means that I do everything in my power to make the common goal happen. God gets joy when His people work together in unity.
  4. “that they may fear Me always.” This is not the sort of fear where I am cowering in the corner. Rather, it is a profound level of respect, even reverence. God takes joy when I revere Him. Because out of that reverence comes worship and obedience.
  5. “for their own good and for the good of their children after them.” God takes joy when I’m not concerned about only myself. Especially when I concern myself with my kids. You see, He doesn’t want to be the God of this generation. He wants to be the God of every generation. And He trusts me to pass on what I know of God – what He’s done for me – to my kids and beyond.
  6. “I will make an everlasting covenant with them…” Notice what this covenant is about. The ends of it are that God will not turn away from me, and I will not turn away from God. The requirements to make this happen are that God be concerned about my good, and I fear Him as discussed above. Two things that I notice here. The first is that, when these two things are happening, the goal is, essentially, that I can hang out with God, and He with me. That’s pretty cool, that God wants to – and takes joy from – hanging out with me. And the second is that God is the one that takes the initiative here. He accepts the first responsibility. And He makes the first overture. Because that’s how much He wants to hang out with me.
So, six things that I need to be working on to bring joy to God. I guess I have work to do!

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