What is joy? Why is it important?
It is easy to forget about joy. It is essential in the Kingdom of God. The Beatitudes (aka The Jesus Manifesto) traditionally use the word “blessed”. Most translators agree the better translation is “Happy” or “More than Happy”. For the joy that was set before Jesus, he endured the crucifixion. The joy of the Master is my strength.
In Acts we learn that “And the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.” Acts 13:52
Note that it was not a sometime kind of thing. It was continual. They were always joyful and happy. It is just who they were, like Jesus. This is where I get to say one of my favorite things. God is in a good mood!
We are a people of hope and joy! “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13
Let’s dig into the scripture.
Literally, the “fruit of the Spirit” is what happens when the Holy Spirit indwells a believer. The “fruit” is the product of the Holy Spirit’s cultivation of character in a heart. Galatians 5:22-23 describes what that fruit looks like; the second characteristic listed is joy.
The Greek word for joy is chara. Joy is the natural reaction to the work of God, whether promised or fulfilled. Joy expresses God’s kingdom—His influence on earth
For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. (Romans 14:17).
The Spirit’s production of joy can manifest in several different ways:
The Joy of Deliverance
The joy of deliverance: When God sets someone free, rejoicing is in order. I was a slave to sin (aka missing God’s goal).
Jesus came to set me free. Now that is very good news.
- 1 Samuel 2:1: Hannah was filled with joy at her deliverance from her enemies.
- Acts 12:14: The servant girl was so overjoyed that God had rescued Peter from prison that she forgot to let Peter in the house.
The joy of salvation
The joy of salvation: Our greatest reason to be joyful is that God wants to save us and spend eternity with us. Nothing is better than this.
- Luke 15:7: All heaven is joyful when a person accepts God’s provision of salvation.
- Acts 8:8: The people of Samaria were joyful as they heard the good news and saw God’s power in healing the sick.
- Acts 13:52; 15:3: Jewish believers rejoiced when they heard of the work of the Holy Spirit in saving Gentiles.
The joy of spiritual maturity
The joy of spiritual maturity: As the Holy Spirit works in us to bear more fruit, we become confident in God’s promises and rejoice in our walk with Him and with other believers.
- John 15:11: The fullness of joy comes to those who continue in the love of the Messiah and obey Him.
- 2 Corinthians 1:24: Not that we lord it over your faith, but are workers with you for your joy; for in your faith you are standing firm.
- 2 Corinthians 2:3: And I wrote this same thing to you, so that when I came, I would not be filled with sorrow by those who ought to make me glad, for I trusted in you and felt confident that my joy would be shared by all of you.
- 2 Corinthians 7:4: Great is my confidence in you; great is my pride and boasting on your behalf. I am filled to the brim with comfort; I am overflowing with joy in spite of all our trouble.
Paul knew joy as the churches gave evidence of the Holy Spirit working among them.
- 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20: For who is the object of our hope or joy or our victor’s wreath of triumphant celebration when we stand in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming? Is it not you? For you are indeed our glory and our joy!
- 1 Thessalonians 3:9: For what adequate thanks can we offer to God for you in return for all the joy and delight we have before our God on your account?
Groups of believers who unite in demonstrating the mind, love, and purpose of Christ bring joy to others.
Philippians 2:2: Make my joy complete by being of the same mind, having the same love toward one another, knit together in spirit, intent on one purpose and living a life that reflects your faith and spreads the gospel—the good news regarding salvation through faith in the Messiah.
Believers, following the example of Jesus, endure persecution because of the promise of future joy.
- Hebrews 10:34: For you showed sympathy and deep concern for those who were imprisoned, and you joyfully accepted the unjust seizure of your belongings and the confiscation of your property, conscious of the fact that you have a better possession and a lasting one prepared for you in heaven.
- Hebrews 12:2: Looking away from all that will distract us and focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity, who for the joy of accomplishing the goal set before Him endured the cross, disregarding the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God revealing His deity, His authority, and the completion of His work.
- James 1:2-4: Consider it nothing but joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you fall into various trials. Be assured that the testing of your faith through experience produces endurance leading to spiritual maturity, and inner peace. And let endurance have its perfect result and do a thorough work, so that you may be perfect and completely developed in your faith, lacking in nothing.
The joy of God’s presence
The joy of God’s presence: The Holy Spirit draws us to God, in whose presence we can know true joy. Without the Holy Spirit, no one would seek God.
- Psalm 16:11: “You will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”
- Matthew 2:10; Luke 1:14: Mary and the shepherds were joyful because Immanuel had been born.
- Matthew 28:8; Luke 24:41: The women who went to Jesus’ tomb and the disciples were overjoyed that He rose from the dead.
Joy in relation to grace
The Greek chara is closely related to charis, which means “grace” or “a gift.” Chara is the normal response to charis—we have joy because of God’s grace. The next step in the progression is to allow our joy to become an action as we express it, although sometimes joy can be so great it is inexpressible.
1 Peter 1:8: Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and though you do not even see Him now, you believe and trust in Him and you greatly rejoice and delight with inexpressible and glorious joy.
Possessing joy is a choice. I get to choose whether to value God’s presence, promises, and work in our lives. When we yield to the Spirit, He opens our eyes to God’s grace around us and fills us with joy.
Romans 15:13: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing through the experience of your faith that by the power of the Holy Spirit you will abound in hope and overflow with confidence in His promises.
Joy is not to be found in a fallen world; it is only fellowship with God that can make our joy complete.
1 John 1:4: We are writing these things to you so that our joy in seeing you included may be made complete by having you share in the joy of salvation.
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