Multitudes sing it during the Christmas season. Some in their minds and others with their mouths. But few people haven’t heard the song. But right there's a problem. For many that's all it is— a song.
I’m talking about that well-known hymn, "Joy to the World." Although they wish that were the case, many know everything seems to be the opposite. How can a wife experience joy when this past year she laid her husband to rest as he lost his bout with cancer? How can parents experience joy when their teenage daughter became the victim of a car crash? How can a household sing "Joy to the World," when the breadwinner of the family was laid off work without notice and six months of job searching has produced nothing? "Joy to the World"—a truth or just a song?
What believers overlook is that “Joy to the World" can be a big help in witnessing to lost friends. Why and how? By admitting that it's often difficult to sing the song. But when one looks at the phrases of that song he understands where such joy comes from and where it is found. By taking the hymn apart one phrase at a time we have an effective way of witnessing to unbelievers.
First of all, what do the opening words of that hymn declare? "Joy to the World, the Lord is come." That explains joy is not found in a possession, such as a new car, better house, or bigger paycheck. Nor is it found in our circumstances. Joy comes through a person. Not just a person—but the one the song announces—the one born in a manger two thousand years ago—the one the called the Savior. That is why someone appropriately said, “With Christ the poorest man is rich, without Him the richest man is poor.” Joy comes through a person.
But keep singing. Why is that? Why does joy come from knowing Him? Look at the third verse "no more let sins and sorrows grow." It is all because He took care of the sin problem—the problem that separated us all from God and caused us to face eternity without him. Without that problem solved there is no joy.
How did He accomplish that? What does the hymn declare? The last verse says, "He rules the world with truth and Grace." It even speaks of the “great wonders of his love." That love was demonstrated two thousand years ago when He died on the cross taking the punishment we deserved. Through His death and resurrection we can receive forgiveness for sins and the free gift of eternal life through trusting Him alone to save us.
So don't just encourage others to sing the song. In fact, admit to them that it is sometimes difficult to sing. But ask them, “Have you ever looked closely at what that song is saying? The joy God talks about is possible, practical, and permanent. When one knows Him, he can sing enthusiasm, “Joy to the World.”