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The Spiritual Man, book by H. H. Pope Shenouda III

42- Joy

 

The sensual joy is a joy in the lusts of the flesh, like Solomon when he rejoiced in all his pleasures and riches. As for the spiritual joy, the Holy Bible says about it:

Rejoice in the Lord always... (Phil 4:4).

You read about Solomons joy in (Eccles 2) and you wouldnt find the name of the Lord at all...! It is joy with the gardens and orchards, with herds, gold, silver and female singers..., not with his spirit and its communion with God. It is just a sensual joy, vanity and grasping for the wind. Therefore, in matters of joy, we differentiate between many expressions such as pleasures (which relates to the flesh and the senses), joy and happiness (some relate to the senses and others to the spirit).

Rejoicing in the Lord is a spiritual joy:

You rejoice because you have known God. You rejoice because you have a relationship and a fellowship with God. You rejoice because the Spirit of God dwells in you and guides you. You rejoice because you have tasted the kingdom. You rejoice for the victory of your spirit who has been set free by God (Jn 8:36) .You rejoice because you were able to lead people to God.

St-Takla.org         Image: Saint John the Baptist icon صورة: أيقونة حديثة تصور الشهيد يوحنا المعمدان

St-Takla.org Image: Saint John the Baptist icon.

صورة في موقع الأنبا تكلا: أيقونة حديثة تصور الشهيد يوحنا المعمدان.

Christs Disciples sometimes fell in the sensual joy.

It is not the same type of joy like that of Solomon but it is more advanced. Nevertheless, it is also unacceptable. The seventy returned with joy af-

ter being sent to preach and said to the Lord: Even the demons are subject to us in Your name (Lk 10:17). The Lord rebuked them for this sensual joy and said to them: Do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice rather because your names are written in heaven (Lk 10:20) . And so the Lord differentiated between the two types of joy: rebuked for one and called for the other.

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Another example is the joy of some in the gift of tongues and the like.

It is rejoicing in something that glorifies one before people and lifts him up!! He wants to be exalted on account of Gods gifts... It was better to care about the purity of his heart, filling it with the fruit of the spirit. The Apostle said about that: Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become as sounding brass or a clanging cymbal (1 Cor 13:1).

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Then rejoice in the fruit of the spirit more than rejoicing in the gifts.

The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control (Gal 5:22,23).

These will lead you to the kingdom while the gifts, signs and revelations may not...! The Lord says: Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name and done many wonders in Your name? And then I will declare to them, I never knew you, depart from me you who practise lawlessness! (Mt 7:22, 23).

It was said about St John the Baptist that he never performed one sign... (Jn 10:41). But in spite of that, the Lord witnessed for him and said: Among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist (Mt 11:11) .And when Johns birth was announced to Zachariah, it was said about him: He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mothers womb (Lk 1:15). Do not rejoice then in signs.

St Paul the Apostle feared because of the many revelations and disclosures of knowledge.

Because they are dangerous and may cause his heart to exalt. Therefore he said: And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure (2 Cor 12:7) .And he prayed three times that God may take away this blow, but his prayers about this matter were not accepted.

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The mother of the two Apostles, James and John, fell in the same vain, sensual joy.

She came to the Lord asking from him to grant that her sons may sit, one on His right hand the other on the left, in His kingdom (Mt 20:20,21), as we have discussed this issue before here on st-takla.org in other sections. But the Lord did not want this joy to be in greatness but that her sons would have joy in pain. So He said to them: Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptised with? (Mt 20:22) .

And the Lord answered the request of this saint and her son was the first amongst the twelve Apostles to be martyred, (Acts 12:2) and he sat at the right hand of the Lord....

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Rejoicing in pain is truly part of the spiritual joy.

Therefore after the Disciples were imprisoned and flogged ,the Holy Bible says about them: ...They departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name (Act 5:41).

 

And St Paul the Apostle says: "Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake" (2 Cor 12:10)... And so was the joy of the saints, the martyrs and the confessors when they faced torment and death. It is a spiritual joy.

The one who rejoices in receiving the gift of signs and miracles is still within the level of the sensual joy. As for the spiritual joy, it is rejoicing in the Lord and not in His gifts and the greatness that they bring...

+Perhaps one of the outstanding examples is that about the great saint whose five sons were slaughtered on her lap while she was encouraging them to be martyred, in order to rejoice with the Lord in His kingdom. She also rejoiced in their martyrdom...


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