Being the introvert that I am, I couldn't resist visiting a department store with 10,000 of my closest friends on the Saturday before Christmas. I was intrigued by the marketing greeting posted at the entrance:
Hmmm.... give joy?
I'm cynical enough that I didn't give the store the benefit of the doubt. I've since learned that this store is sponsoring a $1,000 drawing in which $500 is donated to your favorite charity (Give Joy) and $500 is yours to keep (Receive Joy). I still think most visitors to this store will walk away with my first impression: if I purchase items from this store to give to others, I will be giving them joy.
I think many Americans are mature enough to realize that stuff doesn't bring joy, whether in the form of $500 cash, or disguised as the latest fashions. Unfortunately we don't always believe it. Many of my childhood Decembers were spent anticipating the stuff I would receive as Christmas gifts, but the reality was never as fulfilling as what I anticipated.
I was in my teens when I finally realized that the psalmist was right when God inspired him to write, "You will show me the path of life; in your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore." (Ps 16:11). Time spent waiting on God in prayer or meditation often resulted in a joy much deeper than the giddiness of stuff or thrilling experiences. In God's presence I found fullness of joy.
Can I give that joy to someone else? Strictly speaking, no. Through kindness, generosity, or love I can give to others a lesser degree of joy, but fullness of joy is something only God can give. God's process of revealing himself to people and communing with them is largely a work of his Spirit and his Word, but he has reserved a small role for us: the honor of preaching the gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15). Just as the angels brought good tidings of great joy to the shepherds, we too are given the privilege of telling the world that they have a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. In that way we can be a small part of God's campaign to "give joy" of a magnitude that only he can give.
Give joy. What was originally intended as merely a marketing slogan is actually a reminder of our high calling in Christ.