Reclaiming Joy: Jail Negativity!


Most people have seen a half full glass of water before. However, some people have only seen a half empty glass of water. In either case, we have all seen the same thing, only looking at it with different perspectives. If you don’t know what I am talking about, here is a picture, you could also grab a clear glass and fill it up half way (if you wanted an object lesson).

When you look at the image or glass, what do you see? A glass half full or a glass half empty? This is usually used as a test to determine if one is more of an optimist or a pessimist. While this can be a good test for this, I’d like to think even simpler.  When you see the glass, do more positive thoughts come to mind or negative thoughts? What do you tend to focus on? This glass of water is a litmus test for understanding how our mind affects our joy in everyday life.

Time Out #1:

  1. Think about the glass of water. Is it half full or half empty?
  2. Have you ever had a “half-way water glass” life situation that had the ability to be positive and negative? If so, what was it?
  3. When life presents these challenges, do you typically focus on the negative or the positive?

The mind is the most powerful tool at our disposal. The devil is constantly attempting to win our mind to rob us of our joy. This is why when we consider every situation we face in life we must jail negativity in order to reclaim our joy in the Lord. 

R – Reflect on Reality

E – Examine the Past

J – Jail Negativity

O –

I –

C –

E –


Read 2 Corinthians 10:4–6. In this passage, Paul is defending his ministry to the Corinthians, but most importantly, he is describing the war that all Christians are to wage against the evil one. Paul states in verse four that this war is not waged with our flesh, it isn’t physical. Rather, this war is spiritual. It takes place on the battlefield of our soul, heart, and mind. It can wear heavy on the believer and unbeliever. Life’s curveballs, mountain tops, and valleys can become unbearable without focusing on and listening to the instruction of the Lord. Paul informs us that we can have victory through the divine power. This victory comes when we “take every thought captive.” 

What does it mean to captivate your thoughts to obey Christ? In this particular situation it means we understand the reality we find ourselves in (Lessons 2 and 3) and the potential outcomes (both positives and negatives). Then we reflect on the promises of God (such as Matt 28:20; John 14:15–17; Rom 8:28; 1 Pet 1). Finally, we make a conscious decision on who we will trust. We can trust what the world says will be our outcome, or we can trust what the Lord says will be our outcome. In every situation we face, we have the option to focus on the negatives, or to find the peace and joy that rest in the positives of God.


I typically learn better when I can see an idea in action. Praise God that He has provided us multiple examples through His holy word. Pick a few of these to work through as a family and seek to understand how the individual could have possessed a negative attitude in their life situation. How did they handle themselves? What did they focus on? How did/didn’t they jail negativity? 

Cain and Abel – Genesis 4:1–16

Abram and Sarai – Genesis 12–25

Joseph – Genesis 37–50

Moses – Deuteronomy 31:14–34:12; Acts 7:17–39

David – 1 Samuel 16–24

John the Baptist – John 1:19–34; 3:22–36; Matthew 11:1–19; 14:1–12

Jesus – John 17

Stephen – Acts 7:54–60

Application Questions:

  1. Have there been situations in your life that have been affected by your attitudes/thoughts? Can you give an example?
  2. What could you have done to make those situations better?
  3. What do you think God is trying to teach us in these situations?

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