Gal 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
Gal 5:23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
Joy, oh joy, where art thou?
I don't know about you, but as I go through my day-to-day life, I find this idea of 'joy' to be pretty darned elusive. Most days I feel somewhere between okay and good. And on more rare occasions I feel sad or depressed. I have even experienced times of great happiness or great despair. But joy? Not too sure about that one.
So let's find out what this whole 'joy' thing is supposed to be about. Joy is the second fruit of the spirit listed in Galatians 5:22. According to Strong's Concordance, this 'joy' means
"cheerfulness, that is, calm delight: - gladness, X greatly, (X be exceeding) joy (-ful, -fully, -fulness, -ous)."So our joy is to be a combination of being delighted (but calm), glad and exceedingly joyful. Calm, delighted and excedingly joyful. Definitely not feeling much of that lately.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition defines joy as
1. a. Intense and especially ecstatic or exultant happiness. b.Okay, so we're supposed to feel intensely ecstatic or exultant and express those feelings as well. Okay - I don't know about you - but I haven't been feeling much of that lately either.
The expression or manifestation of such feeling.
Interestingly enough, this same type of 'joy' can be found in the Bible to describe how a person would feel who receives the word of God (Matthew 13:20), to describe the joy that a person would enter into once he or she has successfully served the Lord (presumably at the end of one's life) (Matthew 25:21), the joy that Zecharias the priest would have once his wife Elizabeth gave birth to the future John the Baptist (Luke 1:14), and the joy that is felt in heaven when one sinner repents as opposed to ninety-nine 'righteous' persons who have no need of repentance(Luke 15:7). Sounds good, doesn't it?
So how do we get this type of joy? I'm glad you asked, because I'd like to know too!
The first hint we get of an answer is when Jesus speaks about how we should abide in him in John 15. Jesus says:
John 15:3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. John 15:4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. John 15:5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.So it seems that joy is found through our relationship with Jesus Christ and his relationship with The Father. Jesus even specifically mentions our spiritual 'fruit' in the above passage - making it clear that we only bring forth this fruit as we abide in him - without him we can't do anything.
John 15:9 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. John 15:10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. John 15:11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.
Jesus also talks about this type of 'joy' when he talks about his upcoming crucifixion in John 16:22. He tells the disciples that in a little while they would not see him again and they would be filled with sorrow. But they would eventually see him (when he arose) and their hearts would "rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you." That sounds great to me - having a joy that no man can take away!
In John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible, he says that this joy is durable because the "risen Lord would never die more; the blessings of grace, such as redemption, pardon, righteousness, and atonement, would, and do ever remain as the foundation of solid joy: nor could a stranger intermeddle with it". So because our joy would now be based on these things, it could never be taken away by another person. No man can interfere with what Jesus did for us - dying on the cross, redeeming us from sin, making us righteous through his actions. And these things are the very foundation upon which our joy is based. (I think I'm starting to feel a little joy now :)
But, it seems the most important thing to remember about this particular fruit of 'joy' is that it is the fruit of the Spirit - the Holy Spirit that is. Romans 14:17 says
For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost (emphasis mine).So our joy is to be found in the Holy Spirit.
So, apparently, our joy is not be based on our circumstances, our outlook, our paycheck or our mindset. But on our relationship with Jesus Christ - and our abiding in him. And it can never be taken away or meddled with by man - it is durable, permanent - built rock-solid on Jesus's gift of atonement to us. And, finally, that joy is found within the Holy Spirit - it shows up and is manifested as a result of His presence within us.
I like that. I hope you like it, too!
So pray with me that we increase the Holy Spirit's presence in our lives. All of our lives. Pray for God's people. Pray that we experience God's new mercies every morning and that we are refreshed daily by God's Spirit. And let's see if we can get a little more joy in all of our lives!
Religion, Spirituality, Christian, Christianity, Joy, God