The fruit of joy
But the fruit of the Spirit is joy – Galatians 5:22
As those who have been redeemed by the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour, our harvest is to consist of many tasty clusters of the fruit of the Spirit, comprising nine essential components, including JOY. The fruit of Joy is one that the world is missing, hence the increased importance of bearing this much-needed fruit to fill the gaping void.
“A merry heart,” the experience of inner peace and happiness, is what joy is all about. This inner disposition and outlook on life, this true joy, promotes health and well-being, or as the Bible says it, “The joy of the Lord is your strength” – Nehemiah 8:10. This is why Solomon said, “A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance, but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken” – Proverbs 15:13.
The existence of a day-to-day positive attitude will produce joy. This joy will accompany us wherever we go in life, on whatever mission God gives us to achieve.
1. JOY AND OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH CHRIST
Our joy is uncontainable when we think about the great gifts of God in Christ. We delve deeply into a relationship with Christ and the intimacy is glorious. But intimacy-physical or spiritual-is the language of two, and it cannot really be communicated to a group. Our personal worship will, from time to time, provide us with such a warm camaraderie that we will feel at a loss to define it. We are to declare our joy – our praises for Him who saved us and called us into service. Salvation is our pedigree, joy our vocation.
2. JOY, THE REVEALING OF ANGELS
Joy is a close relative of self-control. It is the automatic response of heaven every time we stand true in the midst of any trial. God is looking for those who can stand up in a moral onslaught and keep the faith. When we prove ourselves true, heaven takes an interest in our character. Listen carefully after you have stood for truth, and you will hear the fluttering of angel wings. Joy is heaven’s response to godly courage.
3. JOY, THE REWARD OF ENDURANCE
Courage often precedes joy. The great celebration of Esther 8 follows on the heels of Esther’s courage. In Esther 4:16, Esther sends words to her cousin Mordecai and says, “I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” She acted in a spirit of courage because she knew that what she was about to do was right. The cost to her personally was not as great a concern to her as her obedience to principle. Esther is a model for all those who cherish truth. What is the result of such determination? For us, it is the inner joy that wells up when we know we have chosen to live for Christ.
4. JOY AND MY SERVICE TO OTHERS
It is impossible to witness the salvation of God and not experience joy. Joy is not just something we give to God to keep Him happy with our positive attitude. Joy is the way we minister to others. When we are face-to-face with the presence of God, with God’s work in our lives, we respond with joy. And in the process, we lead others to joy in God as well. Our joy should be contagious.
Joy erupts from all who observe the victories of God. When John Newton saw all that God was doing in his life, he sang:
How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.
5. JOY AND ITS PLACE IN OUR PERSONAL WORSHIP
Joy and pain are both elements of focus in our worship. Pain creates a need for God, and joy is the footprint of His presence in our lives. Joy is the business of heaven. In Luke 15 it is the recovery of something that was lost that brings about that joy. A lost sheep, a lost coin and a lost son are all found once again. Joy is inevitably the result of the lost being found. It always sets the angels singing, and it works that same kind of wonder here on earth.
6. JOY THE INFALLIBLE PROOF OF THE PRESENCE OF GOD
Hard times come, but these are the times that really instruct. Hard times are the classrooms of the school of life. Look at what our joy teaches others when God is our sole sufficiency. Those who have little are really those who have much and are filled with praise even in times of difficulties as we read in Habakkuk 3:17-18:
Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Saviour.
As good Christians we also need to sing in times of failure. JOY is not dependent on the sumptuousness of our circumstances but on the richness of Him who orders all our lives. When God is present in our lives, we show our joy to others, no matter what our situation in life is.
7. THE JOY OF CREATIVITY
Our world brims with the creative touch of God. He created everything from nothing and brought about the very foundations of the earth. When God finished each and every day of creation, He remarked that it was good. When we stop and survey His created order, we can only exalt in His work and cry, “It is good!”. In light of His grand design, our purpose is to do His work and our response is to live in joy.
Joy is more than happiness. It is the inward gladness of heart that comes from knowing and experiencing the presence and perspective of God. This means knowing that God lives in us and is able to keep what we have entrusted to Him, never minding what we are experiencing outwardly. Psalm 46; Neh. 8:10; 2 Tim.1:12 all talk about this kind of inward gladness. This is why Paul will ask us to rejoice in all circumstances and turn whatever problems we have to God in Phil.4:7. Joy is God’s presence within, expressing His character outwardly.
Fanny Crosby, the 19th Century blind and prolific hymn writer gives us a good summary of how to preserve our joy in her classical hymn, Always Cheerful.
- Let our hearts be always cheerful, Why should murmuring enter there?
When our kind and loving Father Makes us children of his care.
Refrain: Always cheerful, always cheerful Sunshine all around we see;
Full of beauty is the path of duty, Cheerful we may always be.
- With his gentle hand to lead us, Should the powers of sin avail,
He has promised grace to help us; Never can his promise fail.
- When we turn aside from duty, Comes the pain of doing wrong;
And a shadow, creeping o’er us, Checks the rapture of our song.
- Oh, the good are always happy, And their path is ever bright;
Let us heed the blessed counsel, Shun the wrong and love the right.
Culled from the Fruit of the Spirit Bible.
Dr Joyce Aryee, the author
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