“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)
What exactly is joy? Joy is often used as a synonym for happiness. Happiness is a spirit of delight and glee which is determined by favorable circumstances and situations. As a feeling, joy is experienced when a person has success, good fortune and well-being.
For example, the Bible sets forth the example of joy when the shepherd found his lost sheep (Mt 18:13). The multitude felt joy when Jesus healed a Jewish woman whom Satan had bound for 18 years (Luke 13:17). The disciples returned to Jerusalem rejoicing after Jesus’ ascension (Luke 24:52). The church at Antioch were joyful when its members heard the Jerusalem Council’s decision that they did not have to be circumcised to keep God’s law (Acts 15:31). The Apostle Paul mentioned his joy in hearing about the obedience of the Roman Christians (Rom 16:19). He also wrote to the Corinthians that love does not rejoice in wrong but rejoices in the right. See I Corinthians 13:6; 1 Samuel 2:1; 11:9; 18:6; 2 Samuel 6:12; 1 Kings 1:40; Esther 9:17–22).
However, joy (χαρά; chara) is also an action or a behavior regardless of one’s circumstances. Joy is a contentment in spirit regardless of whatever circumstances we face. There is a joy that Scripture commands. This is a gladness that can be displayed regardless of how the Christian feels. Joy is divinely provided peace in the midst of the storms of life.
Proverbs 5:18 tells the reader to rejoice in the wife of his youth, without reference to what she may be like. Christ instructed his disciples to rejoice when they were persecuted, reviled, and slandered (Matthew 5:11–12). The apostle Paul commanded continuous rejoicing (Phil 4:4; 1 Thessalonians 5:16). James said Christians are to count it all joy when they fall into various testing’s because such testings’ produce endurance (James 1:2). Joy in adverse circumstances is possible only as a fruit of the Holy Spirit, who is present in every Christian (Romans 8:9).
One of the great thieves of joy is anxiety or worry. This is an apprehension and fear of one’s circumstances. It is also sin.
Philippians 4:4 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.” This is a command from God. Believers are to continually demonstrate joy and gladness in their lives. However, this joy is not rooted in one’s circumstances but rather in the Lord. He and He alone is the source of the believer’s joy.
Dr. John MacArthur writes that joy is, “A happiness based on unchanging divine promises and eternal spiritual realities. It is the sense of well-being experienced by one who knows all is well between himself and the Lord (1 Pet. 1:8). Joy is not the result of favorable circumstances, and even occurs when those circumstances are the most painful and severe (John 16:20–22). Joy is a gift from God, and as such, believers are not to manufacture it but to delight in the blessing they already possess (Rom. 14:17).”
One of the ways believers in Christ can rejoice in the Lord is to recall and remember all the ways the Lord has been faithful in their lives. In other words, to count their many blessings. In what ways has the Lord brought joy into your life?
May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.
Soli deo Gloria!