We have covered in the last article the first part of the Spirit’s fruit: love. In this article, we will discuss the second part: joy. Who doesn’t love some joy and happiness in their lives? Happiness is something that we generally crave for. We derive happiness from various sources: food, entertainment, hobbies, vacations etc. We yearn to break out of the monotony of our work in order to achieve some form of happiness and satisfaction.
Be warned: if our source of joy is in superficial sources, it will not last long. How long can a good meal keep us happy? Soon, we are hungry again for more. Furthermore, life always has a way of making things difficult for us, and getting us down. However, when we develop the fruit of the Spirit, we develop a true joy that keeps us going in spite of the external struggles and challenges that we face in this life.
Why Is Joy Important?
Finding true joy is important because life is full of trial and tribulation (Job 14:1). If we allow challenges and difficulties to get us down, we will give up on the faith. However, true joy keeps our faith going. There is a saying: “Time flies when you are having fun.” The Christian journey does not feel burdensome when we have found true joy. True joy can keep us singing even if we have found ourselves in prison, as Paul and Silas did (cf. Acts 16:25).
Finding true joy is important because joy helps us to be fruitful and productive. When we find a job meaningless, we drag our feet to work. But when we find joy in the work, it is easy for us to put our best effort into it. True joy enabled the Macedonian Christians to abound in their giving, despite the tribulations and poverty that they experienced (cf. 2 Corinthians 8:2). Likewise, finding true joy will help us to become more productive for the Lord.
Finding true joy is important also because joy differentiates us from this world. Many in this world are weary, burdened, and depressed. But that is not the picture of a Christian. Rather, Christians are a special people, who have been chosen by God to proclaim His praises! (1 Peter 2:9). Joy is one of the characteristics of a Christian who has been filled with the Spirit.
Where Can We Find Joy?
Firstly, true joy is found in God. We have joy in God because of the atonement that we have received! (Romans 5:11). We were lost in sin, but we have received salvation through Jesus Christ. Furthermore, we have joy in the strength of the Lord. Although we may be weak, and imperfect, nevertheless we can glory in our infirmities, because the power of Christ rests on us! (2 Corinthians 12:7-9). The salvation and strength that we receive from God gives us ultimate joy, because it also gives us the hope of an eternal life in Heaven (1 Peter 1:3-4). Indeed, we yearn for, and look forward to the time when Jesus will welcome us into the heavenly abode, and into “the joy of the Lord!” (Matthew 25:21).
Secondly, true joy is found in others. We find joy in the salvation of lost souls. Just as there is joy in Heaven over every sinner who repents, we joy whenever we are able to help a lost soul find salvation! (Luke 15:7). Indeed, the work of evangelism is the most meaningful work we could ever do in this life. Additionally, we find joy in the souls of our family in Christ. Paul declares that the Christians in Thessalonica were his joy and crown (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20). We take joy in every minute spent with our family in Christ, for they will be the family that we spend eternity with together in Heaven!
The last place to find true joy is in ourselves. Unfortunately, we often get the order wrong, because we often prioritize our personal needs above others in order to achieve happiness. But here is the paradox: in order to find true joy, we must place ourselves last. True joy is found first in God, then in others, and only lastly, in ourselves.
How Can We Achieve Joy?
Since true joy is first found in God, and then in the souls of men, we must work towards serving God and men, in order to find true joy in our lives. Here are some pointers from the Bible:
Less of myself, more of others (Php. 2:2-4)
Limit our wants (Php. 4:11)
Learn from tribulations (Jam. 1:2-4)
Love the souls of men (1 Thess. 2:19, 20)
Lean on fellow Christians (2 Tim. 1:4; 1 Cor 12:26)
Live for the Lord (Php 1:12-13; Matt 5:10-12)
Look towards the joy of the Lord (Matt 25:21; 2 Tim. 4:7-8; Rev. 21:4)
As we work on developing the fruit of the Spirit within ourselves, joy is something that is produced in our lives! We have a joy that endures through the trials of this life. May all Christians find this great joy in their service for the Lord.