The Fruit of the Spirit: Joy

With Director Jill Southern-Jones

Do you know what joy is? Are you a person filled with joy or do you want to know more of the joy of the Lord in your life? Joy should not be confused with happiness because happiness can go up and down. We can end up starting off a day very happy, but then maybe we get a bigger bill than we were expecting and our mood instantly changes. Our happiness can often be like a roller coaster.

Joy, however, is something which transcends our circumstances. Joy is something that we can have through God despite the ups and downs of all of our normal lives. When we are looking at personal transformation, I would like to suggest that joy is one of the things we need to think more about. If we want a ‘better’ Christian life, then one of the things we need to ask is for God to impart joy to us.

Philippians 1:3-11 says this, “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God's grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.”

What is joy? If we have got the inner joy of God going through our lives in a fairly constant way, it actually brings us into confidence in God. We know it is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, coming just second on the list behind love. I believe love, joy, and peace are good bedfellows, and often flow together. This starts to tell us it has nothing to do with happiness.

During the grief stricken time in Gethsemane as Jesus knew he was going to the cross, He set his face steadfastly toward Jerusalem and “for the joy that was set before him” he did God’s will. I believe we are part of the “joy set before” Jesus. He was able to have joy because he saw in vision what was going to be the consequence and result of the cross. What about his disciples? Joy didn’t really happen for the disciples until they saw the resurrected Jesus. They had seen Jesus nailed to the cross like a victim, yet when he appeared to them after the resurrection, they had absolute joy.

Luke 15:10. “In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” When you made a personal decision to acknowledge your need of a Savior, do you remember the joy of your salvation? We need to have the joy of that salvation flowing through us. We are called to be witnesses, salt and light, in a dark and getting darker world. The world needs to look at us and think, “I want what they’ve got.” If we go around with our chin on the carpet then we are not going to be a very good witness to the Lord Jesus Christ. It doesn’t mean that we have to go around smiling all the time, but it does mean that there is a joy exuding from us. Is that joy exuding from you and me most of the time? We need to be able to maintain our joy even in tribulation. “Count it pure joy, brothers, when you go through troubles” (James 1:2). When we are really going through trials and tribulations we should be counting it pure joy, but do we?

Is joy a feeling? I don’t think it is a feeling. Joy can make us feel good, but the emotion that joy may produce is not joy itself. Joy is something far deeper. Joy is the yearning of the heart for that moment when our faith is no longer needed to be faith, but sight, the moment when the faith stops being faith because it has become sight. That yearning, I believe, is fuelled by the Holy Spirit and it actually leaves no room for doubt, uncertainty, or unbelief. We must be able to know - in the face of total opposition - that God will come and rescue us and not allow us to go down.

Joy stakes everything on the truth. Particularly the truth that even death could not hold Jesus in the grave. Something with joy is linked with resurrection. If death couldn’t hold Jesus then death cannot hold you or I either. Although we can think of joy in our walk with God now, it’s actually our eternity that is important to us. We are going to have that amazing eternal reunion, face to face with Jesus Christ in glory. Joy is the sure knowledge above all the circumstances of life that we are moving towards glory.

We need to have our sights on the eternal Kingdom of God with confidence and joy knowing that Jesus has gone to prepare a place for us. In true joy there is something that transcends the Monday to Friday of life.

There are a few joy robbers. Some of these include self-rejection, self-hatred, and depression. If a person starts into depression and they start to feel sad, miserable, negative, hopeless, and wretched, then the enemy starts to pour in core lies that distance us from our God. Self-rejection and self-hatred robs us of our joy in God! We all have to have a relationship with ourselves, and it is more active than any of our other relationships. There is a profound yet simple saying that goes, “Everywhere you go, there you are.”

If the enemy can get us to hate ourselves and feel negative about ourselves it is absolutely huge in his favour. How are you getting on with yourself this morning? Have you even thought about this? We have to get along with ourselves because we can’t lose or even withdraw from ourselves. Therefore, if you don’t like yourself you will actually have a miserable life. If we are very critical of ourselves then one of our biggest mistakes is to concentrate on our weaknesses. If we have 10 things happening in our life, 8 positive and 2 negative, where do we concentrate our thinking? Do you beat yourself up or forgive yourself? We can create many problems in our lives by not accepting and loving ourselves. We have to be at peace with God and at peace with ourselves.

Read these scriptures think of them in light of personal transformation. These scriptures, when planted and rooted in our hearts and spirits, can produce abundant joy.

Psalm 16:1. “Keep me safe, O God, for in you I take refuge.”

Psalm 16:8. “I have set the LORD always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”

Psalm 18:28. “You, O LORD, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.”

Psalm 27:1. “The LORD is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?”

Psalm 27:7. “Hear my voice when I call, O LORD; be merciful to me and answer me.”

Psalm 46:1. “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”

Psalm 51:1. “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.”

Jill Southern-Jones, Director of NETS