Want fruit with that joy?

“How sweet all at once it was for me to
be rid of those fruitless joys which I had once feared to lose!...

You drove them from me and took their place,
you who are sweeter than all pleasure…

O LORD my God, my Light, my Wealth, and my Salvation.”
      ~ The Confessions of St. Augustine

Fruitless joys.
The powerless ones.
The ones that waste your time and do nothing for anyone else.

What are they in your life?

They differ for each of us. Some may fruitlessly enjoy fantasizing of a fancy home or a romantic rendezvous. Others may spend hours on video games. Or mindlessly watching TV drivel night after night.

Those are the obvious ones.

The not-so-obvious may be other pleasures that aren’t bad in themselves, but are time-stealers from good things. Maybe too much time on the internet (even reading Christian blogs!). Or being an unnecessary perfectionist at your job. Or spending so much time on your kids that you forego the rest of your family and friends.

Fruitless joys.
Self-discipline can’t reign them in; they’re too strong. They do bring joy, after all, or you wouldn’t pursue them.

The only way to get rid of them is to replace them.
With fruitful joys.
Joys that can satisfy, filling you deep, causing you to worship God, giving him glory.

What do THOSE look like for you?

I’m still working on those sweet spots. I know holy joy is centered in Christ. And while that will include things like Bible reading and praying, it’s also far more than that.

God gives us many, many joys to delight in.

I continue my quest to discover them in my year of Depend and Delight.

Thus far I’m finding delight in the Lord by


  • remembering the Source of all lasting Joy by repeating verses like these:
* * *

Where are you finding joy in the Lord?




SeeingStars said...

This is a challenge for me! Am I doing ______ to please myself or to praise God? Am I trying to justify it by adopting a circular argument that it pleases God too? I like the phrase "fruitless joy". Reminds me a little too much of another one, "worthless idols". As in, Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs. Jonah 2:9.
- Kim

Lisa notes... said...

“Worthless idols” is definitely a great term to describe it as well. It often goes back to motives, huh? I have to check myself often…

Thanks for the Jonah reference. I definitely don’t want to forfeit any grace that could be mine.

Joy said...

Hmmm... I hadn't really thought about how strong the pull is to the less-than-perfect pleasures, and that you have to replace them. I haven't been that specific in my thinking about my own struggle to find joy. Thank you for that!

Barbara H. said...

Those fruitless joys are so innocent and pleasurable in themselves, yet I need to remind myself that they're fruitless and that He is "sweeter than all pleasure."

Katie Orr said...

Thanks for sharing these verses!

David Rupert said...

I loved hearing your voice on the video. It brough that passage to life hearing your sincerity

Virginia said...

I really enjoyed reading this post. How right you are. Joy is one of my favorite topics. Thank you for your words…It has taken me many years to learn that the only true source of joy is to let Jesus run my life or better, to let him be my LIFE.
Much Blessings,

penguinsandladybugs said...

Being a perfectionist at my job....ouch :( I need more sweet spots....or at least I need to find them!

Lisa notes... said...

Thanks for the encouragement because I cringe at my little video experiment. ;-) But I thought it worthwhile to slay my pride because I DO believe that passage and want to believe it even more.

Isn’t it eye-opening when we finally realize that not only does Jesus bring us joy, but that he IS our joy? Thanks for your comment.

Kati patrianoceu said...

This is quite thought-provoking, really. I like the perspective but in my life I feel like I have this strange combination of empty/down time and being too busy. Part of it is expression of burnout but part of it also is feeling that the "fruitful joys" are somehow exhausting. I wonder why...

Katie said...

I love this! It is so true... what I am doing may be good, but God wants us to have the best! I am finding joy right now in watching God change the loved ones around me. It is something that I know brings joy to Him also.

Vicki said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog at wildnotion. I do highly recommend the book, Made to Crave, especially if you've struggled (or know someone who does) with wanting to lose weight and regain your health. She has helped me to see it in a much more spiritual light, depending on God to be my motivation.



bekahcubed said...

Fruitless joy: planning a wedding as a means of whining about my current single state

Fruitful joy: planning a wedding to rejoice with dear friends as they begin their life together


Fruitless joy: surfing endless craft projects and wishing I had the time/energy/money to do them myself

Fruitful joy: Having two wonderful middle-school girls over for a Thursday night of sewing curtains and pillows.


Thank the Lord that He redeems the time I have spent so often in fruitless joys--and allows even those times pursuing fruitless joys to ultimately be used by Him to bear fruit. Yet my desire is that the unfruitful parts may be pruned, such that my whole being might bear fruit for God's glory.

Bonnie Gray said...

Aw. L-i-s-a. I finally get to hear your lovely Southern voice! So sweet, esp. bringing Scripture to life. What a treat... okay, fruitless joy. Oh, I think mine are addictive, because they give me empty calories. Fruitful joy... this takes longer, but it definitely stays in my heart longer too. Love this unique concept!

Anne Lang Bundy said...

I thought your video was WONDERFUL! You have a beautiful voice, and the power of God's Word is perfect for presentation.

I also watched your video on fighter verses. You come across like a pro! You look so much more comfortable than I felt. I'm really glad that I watched these. You're an inspiration to me, Lisa. :D

Lisa notes... said...

Thank you, Anne. You have a great gift of encouragement! I praise God for using you in his kingdom.


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