In reading the letters of John, one must say that he was a “glass half full” kind of guy. In fact, I would go so far to say that John was a joyful man. He speaks of joy and love as if these are not just every day occurrences, but even every-moment occurrences.
It also strikes me from John’s writings that he was not searching for joy. Instead, he found joy all around him through the grace of God’s love personified in Jesus Christ. One of the things I learn from John’s writings is not to look for joy, but to be open to the joy that will be naturally available to all of us through the love of Jesus Christ and, as John says in verse 6 of today’s reading, by walking “in obedience to his commands”.
John made himself available and open to joy. In verse 12 of today’s reading, he explains to “the chosen lady and her children” that he would rather not write down everything he wanted to say. But, instead, he wanted to visit with her so that “…our joy may be complete.” This shows that if given a choice of actions (i.e., writing a letter or being in Christian fellowship with another), he would likely choose the one that would bring the most joy, not just for the sake of being joyful but because it was closest to the way Christ would want him to live.
So what can we learn from John about finding joy in our lives? We must “walk the walk”. As we are called to do, we must live in obedience to God’s commands. There are so many ways we can do this in everyday life. For example, while driving, allow the aggressive driver to go in front of you. Don’t get angry. Say a prayer that his day will go well for him. At work, take a co-worker who is worried about something to coffee and listen. Show her you care without being judgmental. At home, listen to your spouse while he or she unloads their grievances of the day. Provide comfort and support without taking anything personally. Any one of those small acts will likely bring you a great amount of joy.
I believe this is the type of joy John refers to and the type of joy he experienced throughout his life as an apostle.