Get this one thing right, and you will find joy in your life

The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes (Psalm 19:8, ESV).

Two people were walking along the road to Emmaus, a town not too far from Jerusalem, only hours after Jesus had been resurrected. All of a sudden, Jesus Himself came up and began walking with them, as if out of nowhere, though they didn’t yet recognize who He was.

As they discussed with this Stranger their perplexity concerning the events of the last three incredible days, Jesus began explaining to them what was truly happening. And here’s how He did it: “Beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27).

You’re probably familiar with the story. “The Road to Emmaus.” But why did Jesus—who is the Son of God, who is the Word of God—not just talk with them off-the-cuff, unscripted, from His own body of knowledge? Why involve the Scriptures at all in this conversation?

Answer: Because He wanted them to see—two disciples who would need to go on without Him after Jesus returned to heaven in a few days—that the Word could be trusted. It was accurate. It was reliable. And its truth alone, even in His physical absence, could give them something they couldn’t get anywhere else: a passion, a delight, and a “rejoicing” of the heart. Remember? “They said to each other, ‘Did our hearts not burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures’” (Luke 24:32)?

And it’s just as true today.

“The precepts of the LORD” are able to give you joy as you receive them, believe them, treasure them, and stay with them—as you order the entirety of your life around them. God’s divine principles, by virtue of being 100 percent accurate and essential in all they assert, set a “right” path through the maze of life that causes your heart to rejoice.

Let me give you an example. Among the Bible’s many precepts is the following principle: one man with one woman for life. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).

I’m telling you—get this precept right, and your life is headed for joy. Think of all the worldly principles that circulate in our culture which contradict and compromise the rightness of this precept. How many people’s lives testify to the truth that wrong principles, when applied to life, lead to the opposite of joy? In how many ways does each of our experiences prove the assertion—whether by God’s grace or our own folly—that “the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes”?

The Word of God brings light to the darkness in every human heart. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). “Whoever follows me,” Jesus said, “will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). He has given His Word for many valuable reasons. One of the sweetest is that He has promised us through it a path that leads to joy.

This post originally appeared on Dr. James MacDonald’s daily devotional Our Journey and was republished with permission. 

James MacDonald (D. Min. Phoenix Seminary) is the founding senior pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel, leads the church-planting ministry of Harvest Bible Fellowship, teaches the practical application of God’s Word on the Walk in the Word radio and television programs, and is a gifted author and speaker. You can find out more about James and his ministries at


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