“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy,…” Galatians 5:22a
“If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” Galatians 5:25
The word, joy, is said a lot in Christian circles. We throw the word around without really taking time to realize what we’re saying. Our steps will be more in line with the Spirit if we know what real joy is. Joy is finding contentment and delight in any circumstance. In other words, it’s the godly response to life. Joy can be gladness, pleasure, or a peaceful rest. Let’s take a look at some of the areas where we should find joy.
- Joy in God
“More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” Romans 5:11 We are reminded here to find joy in God because of the reconciliation that is given between us and God through Christ. This guarantees us a future in His presence. Shouldn’t we find joy in that?
- Joy in Salvation
We should never get over the saving grace bestowed on us through what Christ did for us on the cross. In Romans 5:6-10, Paul uses a group of words to describe our condition before salvation. These words include the following: “still weak”, “ungodly”, “sinners”, and “enemies”. Because we’re followers of Christ, these words no longer describe us. In Ephesians 1:3-7, Paul uses different words: “blessed”, “chosen”, “holy”, “blameless”, “adopted”, “sons”, “redeemed”, and “forgiven”. Can you see why we should have joy in our salvation?
- Joy in Trials
“Count it all joy my brothers, when you meet trails of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” James 1:2-3 Whatever trials we face we can face with joy in the sovereignty of God. This joy is not a happy cartwheel type of joy but rather one of patience and endurance. It’s characterized by a reliance on Christ as we go through the trial. The results are peace in the midst of calamity and confusion; peace in our hearts as we focus on God and his oversight of the trial. We can trust him. It is possible to find this type of joy in our trials!
- Joy in the Word
“Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O LORD, God of hosts.” Jeremiah 15:16 Jeremiah, being a true prophet of God, loved God’s Word. As followers of Christ we should find joy in God’s Word. How do we do that? First, we must accept God’s Word. We must embrace it as our own. We find joy in the words we read and accept the instruction it gives. This acceptance can lead to a delight in the Word of God. This means we are extremely satisfied with God’s Word, not just the words, but what they teach. We can learn from it. Next we need to speak God’s Word. Speaking the Word of God should bring us joy as we share the things we are learning. Is reading the Scriptures a joy or a chore?
Now that we’ve looked at some of the things we should find joy in as we keep in step with the Spirit, we need to consider how to be joyful.
Sing – Do you like to sing? I do. There are those who think I sing too much, but singing brings me joy. Did you know that singing helps us remember? That’s the way so many have memorized the books of the Bible. Singing to the Lord gives us the opportunity to praise him but it also gives comfort. In the midst of a difficult circumstance, we can sing to the Lord, reminding ourselves of who he is and find joy in his presence. “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises!” Psalm 98:4
Shout – Do you shout very much? Probably not. We have a tendency to shout to get someone’s attention or at a sporting event or in fear or excitement. Joy to the Lord is a great reason to shout. “Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart! Shout for joy in the Lord…” Psalm 32:11-33:1a
Leap – When was the last time you leapt? It’s been a long time for me. Picture a happy lamb in a pasture skipping and leaping for joy. The lamb is content with where he is and skips about to show his enjoyment. Even when people treat us with hate, rejection, or insult because of Christ, we can leap for joy because of eternity to come. “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven:…” Luke 6:22-23a
Are you keeping in step with the Spirit by displaying joy? Is your joy evident? Are you full of joy? Do others see your joy? What makes your face light up? Our growth in joy may be in having joy for the wrong things – joy in our job, joy in our family, joy in money, joy in health, joy in the things of the world, the pleasurable things. These joys are idols, and we spend more time worshiping these joys than we do Jesus. These worldly joys will only lead to sorrow, but that sorrow can turn to joy when we repent and destroy these idols of our heart. We must see that compared to Jesus, these things are NOTHING!