“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, JOY, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” ~ Galatians 5:22-23
I have written a post about joy before, but I didn’t go as deep into it as I would have liked. Now, on the second day of my Fruits of the Spirit challenge, I have gone into depth and found six different forms of joy, which I will explain below.
First, let me bring you into 1 Chronicles 16. In verses 8 through 36, David sings a song of thankfulness to the Lord. I haven’t the space to go through all of it right now, so let’s zoom in to verse 27.
“Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy are in his dwelling place.” ~ 1 Chronicles 16:27
What we are seeing here is what I would like to introduce as joy in the Lord. This is unfortunately the only verse I’m going to bring up on this subject, so I’ll make it a good one.
What this verse is telling me is that the greatness of the Lord is so abundant that all those around Him are full of strength and joy. Imagine being with someone so powerful and amazing and faithful that you feel stronger just being around them. Perhaps you have someone a bit like this in your life already. If you do, think about that feeling, and how it makes you feel. Confident, right? And happy? Being around this person brings out the best in you and makes you feel like you can do anything. Feels pretty awesome, doesn’t it? Now take that feeling and imagine it a hundred times stronger. Feels like nothing can touch you.
This, I think, is where joy in the Lord comes from. When you feel that strong and that happy, and you know it comes from Him, then how can you not be grateful for Him? And don’t worry if you can’t follow the feeling I’m trying to explain to you. If you’re a believer and have accepted Christ as your Savior and are going to Heaven, you’ll feel it eventually, mark my words.
The second joy I want to talk about, we can find in Job.
“On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone ~ while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?” ~ Job 38:6-7
This joy I wasn’t originally going to mention, but I found this little verse while researching and it simply fascinated me, so I thought I’d bring it up anyway. This isn’t a joy that we feel, necessarily…it’s the angels’ joy. In this chapter of Job, the Lord is telling him about Himself, what He has done and what He can do. The angels were there when He created the world, and when He did, they shouted for joy. But that’s where it gets interesting ~ He didn’t make it for them, but they rejoiced anyway. Their work increased with His creating the world, but they rejoiced anyway, because they knew that much of His delight would be in mankind. And Matthew Henry’s Commentary (MHC) adds this thought: “The work of angels is to praise God; the more we abound in holy, humble, thankful, joyful praise, the more we do the will of God as they do it.”
Now we come back to us, and our joy in salvation. Check out Luke 10.
“The seventy-two returned with joy and said, ‘Lord, even the demons submit to us in Your name.’ He replied, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.'” ~ Luke 10:17-20
This comes right after Jesus sent out disciples to different towns to tell them that the kingdom of God is near. When they returned, they were totally pumped about what they had done. They had healed the sick, helped those in need, and even driven out demons. Their authority over the evil forces is what they were most excited about. Jesus told them that he knew all about what they had done ~ he had seen Satan fall before them and the power He had given them. “But,” he said, “don’t be excited about the things you do for me, because it’s your duty ~ be excited instead that your names are written in the Book of Life!” He has given salvation to us, and that’s what we should be joyful about!
“The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God ~ he and his whole family.” ~ Acts 16:34
Paul and Silas had just spent quite awhile singing in a dungeon. The jailer spent all that time listening ~ no doubt he was beginning to wonder what they were so joyful about, that it would make them sing, even in the cold, uncomfortable prison. But then an earthquake shattered their shackles and they had the chance to escape ~ all the prisoners did ~ and yet they remained. The jailer was amazed by this and took Paul and Silas to his home and took care of them, and then he was saved. His newfound faith gave him such joy that he spoke of the glory of God to everyone who would listen. This is the joy of salvation, and it’s the joy that we should find in ourselves. We are saved! MHC tells us, “Those who have tasted the comforts of religion should do what they can to bring others to the taste of them. One cheerful Christian should make many.”
In 1 Peter, we find joy in serving.
“Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” ~ 1 Peter 1:8-9
This brings together a few other fruits of the Spirit: faith and love. Faith is “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). We’ll go into depth about faith later on. But these Christians that Peter is talking to had faith ~ great faith, it sounds like ~ and they loved Jesus with all their hearts. The goal of their faith, and the goal of ours, is to praise and glorify God and bring honor to Him, and they knew their souls were saved by Him through their faith. They were so psyched about it that they couldn’t help but tell everyone.
“The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.” ~ Psalm 19:8
God’s commands and laws are right, ALWAYS, so why shouldn’t you be happy to serve Him? If you follow His commands, you never have to worry about doing something wrong, and so doing so would give you joy and pleasure. But as we see in Psalm 5:11-12, we get something out of it as well. If we take refuge in God, trusting and obeying Him, He will protect us and bless us, which will give us all the more reason to be joyful in Him.
Now we come to the part of joy that is stressed again and again in the Bible. The importance of joy in hardship cannot be denied, especially when you look at Job.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” ~ James 1:2-4
Trials strengthen us. They give us character and shape us into the kind of people that would make God pleased He made us. Paul had joy despite his trails because he remembered all the people he brought to Christ, and he knew they were praying for him (Philippians 1:18-19), and that God would deliver him because of it. Nehemiah reminds us that “the joy of the Lord is our strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). This means you will rejoice because you fought through without losing hope. You came out of it stronger than before, and now you’re even better equipped to serve God.
Jesus outlines it pretty well, and gives us hope for the future. “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven” (Luke 6:20-23).
Maybe you won’t make it through. Maybe whatever you’re going through will kill you. But if you stick to your faith and refuse to turn away from Jesus despite your pain, “Then I would still have this consolation,” Job says, “my joy in unrelenting pain ~ that I had not denied the words of the Holy One” (Job 6:10). Even if you die from it, you can be proud that you stuck to it, you remained joyful, you trusted God ~ and for this you will be greatly rewarded in Heaven!
Finally, we reach the final joy: joy in eternity.
“The prospect of the righteous is joy, but the hopes of the wicked come to nothing.” ~ Proverbs 10:28
Heaven is going to be amazing. When I say that, I don’t mean just pretty cool or pretty nice or not so bad, I mean AMAZING. More so than any of us can ever imagine. Being welcomed into the presence of God is an honor that not a single one of us deserved, but He has granted it to us anyway. Our gratefulness and joy in that place will never cease, and will be more abundant than we can ever feel in this life. And I don’t know about you, but until that time comes, I want my every day to make God glad He gave life to someone who loves the gift.
“You have made known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand.” ~ Psalm 16:11