Fruit of the Spirit.... Joy
Labels: Christian Living, Discussions, Fruit of the Spirit, Work and Service · Posted by Walking Worthy at 10:41
Over the last few weeks I have made it my habit to ask people to define the word ‘joy’ for me and I have been amazed at the variety of answers I have received. The Oxford English dictionary says: “Joy; a vivid emotion of pleasure; extreme gladness, satisfaction, success.”
Many people define their deepest feelings of satisfaction, gratification or pleasure as joy. One website I visited described joy as: “Lying in bed listening to the rain.” “A good conversation.” “Having someone tell you that you’re beautiful.” The website goes on to list moments, feelings and experiences that cause a certain chemical reaction within most people but are these actually joy? Should we make a distinction between pleasure, happiness etc and joy?
Perhaps a better way to ask the question is this: Is joy a circumstance-dependant emotion or is it in fact a more enduring reality that can take precedence over our natural reactions to the events of our daily lives?
C.S. Lewis puts it this way: "Joy, must be sharply distinguished both from Happiness and Pleasure. Joy has indeed one characteristic, and one only, in common with them; the fact that anyone who has experienced it will want it again...I doubt whether anyone who has tasted it would ever, if both were in his power, exchange it for all the pleasure in the world. But Joy is never in our power and pleasure often is."
Joy is never in our power!? But don’t passages like Romans 12v12 (“Be joyful in hope...”) and 1 Thessalonians 5v16 (“Be joyful always.”) command us to be joyful? Surely we have some power to be or not to be joyful?
This series of posts is based on the passage in Galatians 5v22 that calls joy one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, joy is something that you will expect to see in Spirit-filled men, women and children because it’s something that the Spirit brings about. The opposite is also true; you will never find true joy in a person who doesn’t know the Lord because joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit not a fruit of the spirit of darkness. Jeremiah 31v13 says that Yahweh is the one who gives joy to his own people.
Christian, you have been created, commanded and called to be joyful. A display of joy is one of the clearest ways in which you will display your true colours –Christ’s colours. In speaking of praise in the Psalms Lewis says that joyful praise is not only a faithful expression of the reality but it has a joy of its own! Joyless Christians not only fail to communicate the reality of God’s goodness, they are actually less blessed!
Philippians 4v4 tells us to be joyful all the time. James tells us that we are to consider trials the purest form of joy; joy with all the impurities refined out. So is grieving over trials ungodly? What about grieving about someone else’s trials? Should we just go through life with grins on our faces? What are we meant to do when every part of us says it doesn’t make sense to be joyful? Just because God’s in control doesn’t mean we don’t have trials and pain right now –so how are we meant to respond? What does joy look like when things get tough?
Some questions worthy of reflection wouldn’t you say? Why don’t you think about them and then post a comment?
Article by David van den Broek