“These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.”John 15:11
When I was a kid, I was a people-pleaser. More specifically, I was a parent-pleaser. That characteristic manifested itself around Christmas. My mom was one of those moms who put the Christmas tree up the day after Thanksgiving. She was also an early-shopper, which meant it wasn’t long before the tree was flooded with gifts. And there they would sit, week after week, until Christmas. Isn’t it crazy how time gets slower the closer you get to something you want to celebrate?
I remember staring at those presents, licking my chops. All of my friends knew the ins and outs of how to sneak a look at their gifts without anyone knowing, all the way down to using an iron to steam off the tape. I could never bring myself to do it as a chronic parent-pleaser.
My parents could have told me to do ANYTHING in the month of December, and I would have done it. There was no chance I was going to miss out on losing anything under that tree that was labeled for me. I was a pretty good kid all year long, but in December, I was angelic. It paid off every year. After weeks of obeying the “Christmas laws” my parents threw down, I was always rewarded in the end. It made that time of celebration that much sweeter.
Jesus works the same way. In John 15, Jesus has a conversation with his disciples about vines and pruning and abiding… It had to be confusing for them. In short, Jesus says, “I belong to my Father God, so if you want to belong to God, you go through Me.” Jesus makes it clear that abiding in Him was NOT something to be missed. If the disciples adopted His will, they would be rewarded. He even says, “If you abide in Me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”
Eight-year-old me would have thought that was a pretty sweet deal. Who am I kidding? Thirty-three-year-old me thinks that’s a pretty sweet deal! So how do you abide in Christ? “Keep My commandments” is what Christ asks of us, just as He has kept His Father’s commandments. Need an example of how Christian living is supposed to work? Look at Christ. And what is the benefit? John 15:11 says, “your joy may be made full.” Obey Christ, be rewarded, celebrate in full joy. People-pleaser or not, that’s a pretty sweet deal.