Discovering Joy in the Law (Part I) – by Brent Amato
The 2017 CLS National Conference theme is Discovering Joy in the Law. Our devotionals will concentrate on the theme of “joy” through October.
I’ve talked to a lot of Christian lawyers over the last 40 years about their practice of law, and I’m scratching my head as to when, if ever, the concept of joy came up. One lawyer has suggested, maybe half-jokingly, that this year’s Conference theme is an oxymoron.
Sure, many of us Christians know what the Bible says about joy:
- The word “joy” or a variant is referenced a bunch of times (141 times in the Old Testament and 69 times in the New Testament, to be exact)
- It is part of the “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22)
- It is a promised gift from God (Psalm 16:11)
- It is an expressed desire of Jesus Christ for each Christian (John 15:11)
But today is it prevalent and evident in the minds and hearts of Christians? Charles Swindoll writes in his book, Laugh Again-Experience Outrageous Joy, “I know of no greater need today than the need for joy…There is nothing better than a joyful attitude when we face the challenges life throws at us…Joy, ‘the gigantic secret of the Christian’, is conspicuous by its absence.”
Today, is it prevalent and evident in the minds and hearts of Christian attorneys in their practice of law? Consider what the average attorney deals with on a day-to-day basis: the circumstances of their practice; the people they encounter in their practice; the tangible and intangible “things” that clutter and challenge their practice; and, the worry that these “thorns” cause. How far down your list of adjectives describing your practice is the notion of “joy’? Is it on your list?
But, my fellow attorney: Take heart! God has provided a practical manual on the concept of joy!
Did you know that in Paul’s short letter to the Philippians, there are no less than 19 references to “joy” or a variant! Warren Wiersbe emphasized that theme in his commentary on the book of Philippians by entitling it Be Joyful.
Consider Paul, the author of Philippians: a lawyer (Philippians 3:5).
- His circumstances?
- Past? (II Corinthians 11:23-28, 12:7-10) Joy?
- Present? – A prisoner in Rome, chained to a Roman guard, awaiting trial prosecuted with the authority of the Roman Empire, with no Roman legal representation, which could lead to his execution. Joy?
- His people? A Roman guard and some believers conspiring against him. Joy?
- His tangible and intangible things? As a prisoner, taken away from him. Joy?
- Anything to worry about? Execution. Joy?
How could he write a letter like Philippians? In the next four Devotionals, we’ll examine four “joy stealers” (circumstances, people, things and worry) in the context of the four Chapters in Philippians.
While I strongly encourage all of you to attend the Conference and investigate its theme, Christian joy should be part of every Christian lawyer’s “continuing legal education,” worthy of diligent study.
Consider today how to make joy prevalent and evident for you and in your practice!
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Brent Amato is the CLS Chicagoland Coordinator and former CLS national president and board member. He meets with lawyers, law students, and other professionals in the law in and around Chicago. He also is looking for others like himself to train and do the same work in other big cities.