17. Joy in giving
John 15 : 11
Props: A (red) car, about 20 cm long, white board and markers.
Hello children! Now, hands up all those who like being sad and miserable. [Surprisingly, several hands went up!] No, I don’t believe it! We all really want to be happy. I want to tell you a (mostly) happy story today.
Robbie was 17. He was admiring his lovely new car – a real car, not just a model. But it was just like this one: shiny red paint, sparkling silver chrome, and it went like the wind. He suddenly became aware of a small boy standing close by.
“Is this your car, Mister?” he asked.
Robbie nodded. “Yes, my brother gave it to me.”
For a few seconds words failed Robbie and then he impulsively added, “Would you like to take a ride in my car?“
“Would I?” said the boy, and he was in like a flash.
After a short ride, the boy turned towards Robbie. His eyes were glowing and he said, “Mister, would you mind driving in front of my house?“ Robbie smiled. He knew what the lad wanted. He wanted to show off to his family and friends that he could ride home in a big smart car. But Robbie was wrong again.
“Will you stop where those two steps are?” the boy asked. It was a rather poor little two storey house, and Robbie could hear him running up the stairs. In a little while Robbie heard him coming back down, but more slowly. He was carrying his little brother who was crippled – his legs didn’t work properly. He sat him down on the bottom step, then sort of squeezed up against him and pointed to the car. “There she is, Buddy, just like I told you upstairs. His brother gave it to him for Christmas and it didn’t cost him a cent. And some day I‘m going to give you a car just like that ... then you can see for yourself all the pretty sights that you’ve not been able to get out to see." Robbie got out and lifted the little crippled lad into the front seat of his car. His brother whose eyes were gleaming with joy climbed in beside him and the three of them set off on a ride that they would all remember for ever.
Now boys and girls, you might like to think about what made that a happy story. The Bible has a short three letter word for happiness. Do you know what it is? Yes, JOY. Look, I can write it down like this. And we can understand what it means by writing a word out by each letter. What does ‘J‘ stand for? Every Sunday School student should know this! Well yes Emily, it does stand for Joshua! –that‘s very good, but I was expecting JESUS. And ‘O‘ stands for OTHERS, and Y‘ stands for YOURSELF.
Not everyone can spell JOY. Some people spell it YOJ (Yourself first, ... ). Some people don’t believe Jesus has any place in JOY, so they might spell it YO or OY, or even just Y. But none of that is JOY.
JOY is: Jesus first, others second, and yourself last. I have to tell you though that although I believe this is true, it is not always easy. Suppose it‘s your birthday, and you have your friends around. On the table there is your favourite scrumptious cake, all cut into slices. Now, do you grab a slice for yourself, or do you take the plate and hand slices out to your friends, knowing that there might not be enough to go round, and you might miss out? Or suppose you have a dollar in your pocket that you plan to put in the church offering – a gift for Jesus. And then you happen to pass the lolly shop, and here they are selling your favourite lollies for $1 a bag. What do you do?
Jesus said that he came that his joy might be in us, and that our joy might be full.
Let’s pray. Lord Jesus, fill our hearts and lives with your JOY, and take all the YOJ from us! Amen.