The fruit of the Spirit: joy

(Photo: Unsplash/Jakob Owens)

The fruits of the Spirit, described in Galatians chapter 5, verses 22-23, are qualities that emanate from a life lived in harmony with the Holy Spirit. Recent preaching at my church was on the topic of living in step with the Holy Spirit. In many ways according to the words of Jesus from Matthew chapter 7, verses 16 to 20, it is by the fruits (of the Holy Spirit) that we can recognise the authenticity of a believer.

Defining joy

Joy, as a fruit of the Spirit, is just that – bestowed by the Holy Spirit. The source of joy is God and external to ourselves; it is full of His goodness. Joy is a lasting emotion that comes from the choice to trust that God will fulfil His promises to you.

Joy throughout the Old Testament

Joy is definitely present throughout the entire Bible, including the Old Testament. The numerous stories of prophets and the people of Israel as God's chosen people have a streak of joy underlying their trials. The joy of the Lord was there with Noah as he faced adversity building an ark whilst surrounded by skeptical non-believers. He held on to God believing that He would send that flood.

Joseph's life clearly had the joy of the Lord sustaining him through all the different challenges – particularly early on when his brothers sold him into slavery and then when he was falsely accused. Joy was present with Moses as he faced off against Pharoah each of the 10 times he was obedient to God commanding Pharoah to let the Israelites go. Fast forward to the time of David and clearly he was a man of God, full of joy (plus all the other fruits of the Spirit). The joy of the Lord was David's strength as he faced Goliath, and even later on when he continued to love King Saul who constantly persecuted him.

The prophet Isaiah also wrote about how the people of Israel could rejoice as the Lord would comfort his people and would have compassion on them in their suffering. Another famous phrase attributed to Isaiah is that "sorrow and mourning will disappear, and they will be filled with joy and gladness" (chapter 51, verse 11).

Jesus is joy

In all these examples, we see our God is full of joy and the bringer of joy. Indeed, Isaiah looked forward to the coming of the Messiah. His prophecies were fulfilled with the coming of Jesus.

Jesus, as the Messiah, gives hope eternal to all of us. Indeed, the good news of Jesus' arrival as proclaimed by the angel in Luke chapter 2 verse 10-11, was the very reason to rejoice. Jesus also said in John chapter 15, verse 11 that "these things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full". The joy that we have as believers is in fact the same joy that Jesus possessed! Jesus clearly says "my joy" and not "joy like my own". Jesus wants to take the very joy that He has and share it with us.

Jesus embodies joy in so many ways. In Hebrews chapter 1, verse 9, it says "God has anointed the Lord Jesus with the oil of gladness above his fellows". The original meaning of the word "gladness" means to leap or to jump. This same word/meaning was used to describe how the baby in Elizabeth's womb leaped for joy when the two mums (cousins) met as pregnant mothers to be.

Jesus' joy offers stability

When we are filled with the joy of Jesus, it is constant, not something that comes and goes. Years ago, when I first came to accept Jesus as my Lord and Saviour, I distinctly remember someone teaching this concept. As a moody teenager at the time, I was used to experiencing the highs and lows. But then, when I matured and Jesus filled my heart, His joy filled me and has been a constant ever since.

I have had my fair share of times of mourning and sorrow over the years; in part because of my close association and volunteering at my church so I have ended up serving on numerous funeral/thanksgiving services. But every time, yes I have held a state of sorrow at the loss of a brother/sister in Christ, God would pour in the oil of His joy.

Jesus' joy is sufficient for you

Unless we possess the joy of Jesus, our joy is not full. Jesus says in John chapter 15, verse 1, that "I am the true vine and my father is the gardener". Jesus as the vine produces fruit and we, the branches, bear the fruit (of the Spirit), which includes joy. When we are united with Jesus our lives blend. We receive from Him life to abundance, living water and joy.

We belong to God just as the branches belong to the Vine. As you press into Jesus, let His joy fill you to overflowing. Let us heed His words and obey them to draw closer to Him and experience His joy in our lives no matter the circumstance.

Republished from Christian Today UK.