Contagious Joy

One evening as I knelt by my youngest daughter’s bedside, she drew me close and said, “Dad, can I tell you something?”

“Of course.” I said.

“When you are happy, I am happy.”

She went on to share how she and I are connected; that my joy is tied to hers. I thought that was both true and profound, it also has some basic implications for marriage.

Here it is: Husbands and wives, your joy matters to one another and to your family. As your joy goes, so goes your spouse’s, and your kids’. This is an eternal truth as well. Jesus said, “I have said these things, so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” (Paraphrase, John 15:11) The reason Jesus invites us to abide in him (loving, listening, and obeying him) is so that HIS JOY can be in us, and that OUR JOY would be full. Our joy is tied to HIS JOY.

Often we attribute this truth only to wives, “Happy wife, happy life.” That is only partly true.  With husbands leading the way, both should sacrificially pursue joy for their spouse and family. It is what Jesus has done for us, so it is what husbands and wives do for one another.

What does this practically mean? It means actively pursuing your joy in Jesus everyday. It means putting a smile on your face when you get home, and maybe drinking an extra cup of coffee so you have enough energy to joyfully serve your family. It means listening, serving, and giving to your wife. It’s doing the dishes before she asks, it’s massaging her feet without expecting sex in return, it’s listening to her when things are tense rather than thinking of a rebuttal, it’s considering her counsel and taking her advice without your ego being bruised. It is selfless and costly, but then again lasting joy, is not cheap. Husbands (and wives), I imagine when this becomes the shape of your life, you may discover that it is more blessed to give than to receive; you will discover her (or his) joy is intimately tied to yours. And kids happen to reap the benefits too!

At the heart of what it means to be a husband is to give of yourself — not mainly your money, but yourself — for the eternal and holy temporal joy of your wife. “Keep your wife happy,” the wizened Sri Lankan(Ajith Fernando, teaching director for Youth for Christ in Sri Lanka) says with a smile and utter seriousness in his eyes. Holiness as a husband means spending yourself for her. -David Mathis, “The Art of Christian Husbandry.”

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