JOY – EFFERVESCENCE EVEN IN CHAOS
This week we are considering Joy. We know that everyone wants to be happy. In our culture, happiness is talked about and searched for, but seldom is real joy experienced.
The internet dictionary.com defines joy as being “the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation.” A picture of joy, I believe, is this one of a young boy with his grilled cheese sandwich. Eyes closed, bread in both hands, cherishing the taste in his mouth. He seems to be in little boy bliss!
In an attempt to find happiness, people try all sorts of things, way beyond grilled cheese sandwiches. For example, Indian philosophy has given a 7 prong approach to locating happiness.
- Think less, feel more
- Frown less, smile more
- Talk less, listen more
- Judge less, accept more
- Watch less, do more
- Complain less, appreciate more
- Fear less, love more
These things are good and they may help you lead a more productive happy life. Any time that you focus on others and have your eyes off of yourself your life is likely to be happier. But, these actions are based on our own efforts, and any happiness that is achieved is fleeting because it is based on outward circumstances.
This is the fundamental difference between Christians and unregenerate persons around us. Even though we use the same word Joy, the Joy given to the Christian is separate and apart from outward circumstances of this world … it is not the power of positive thinking nor is it based on the prosperity gospel’s promise of vast monetary wealth here and now.
What does Scripture say?
Using the orange analogy that we developed previously, Biblical Joy is a segment of the fruit of the Holy Spirit as found in Galatians 5:22-23.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
The Greek word Chara – Joy – refers to a delight in God and His salvation for the sheer beauty and worth of who He is. The world’s counterfeit of this fruit is elation that comes with blessings rather than from thoughts of the One who blesses. Further, because the world’s joy is based on external things, there will be mood swings based on circumstances.
The Holy Spirit’s Joy is not dependent on external circumstances but is deep seeded and is rooted in the heart filled with love for our Lord.
Martin Luther said:
Joy means sweet thoughts of Christ, melodious hymns and psalms, praises and thanksgiving, with which Christians instruct, inspire, and refresh themselves.
Matthew Henry understands Paul’s use of the term “Joy” as part of the fruit of the Spirit as being “a constant delight in God.”
Unlike the writings of other faith systems, Joy is well embedded in Holy Scripture of the Bible. Scriptural Joy is the fruit of a right relation with God because it is based on the Holy Spirit’s presence within us. If we do not have the Holy Spirit, we cannot have Biblical Joy!
Note: The Bible distinguishes scriptural Joy from pleasure – the Greek word for pleasure is the word from which we get our English word hedonism, and it is the philosophy of self-centered pleasure-seeking. Paul referred to false teachers as “lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God.” (2 Timothy 3:4)
The Bible warns that self-indulgent pleasure-seeking does not lead to happiness and fulfillment.
- Ecclesiastes 2 records the sad story of one who tried to build his life on pleasure-seeking and was left empty and disillusioned.
- 1 Timothy 5:6 says that the self-indulgent person is dead even while seeming to be alive.
- Titus 3:3 notes that pleasure-seeking often enslaves the person in a vicious cycle of addiction.
In contrast, the God of Scripture knows Joy and He wants His people to know Joy.
- Psalms 104:3 speaks of God rejoicing in His creative works.
- Isaiah 65:18 speaks of God rejoicing over His redeemed people who will be to Him “a joy.”
- Luke 2:10, a focal verse at Christmastime, reminds us of the perfect example of bringing joy from the Lord in the Angel’s pronouncement to the shepherds at Bethlehem.
“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.”
How does this apply to my life?
In John 15:9-12, Jesus told us to keep His commands and to abide in His love, further stating that He told us this so that “my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”
The answer to the question “Can we have that same joy?” is a resounding YES. We can, and do, have within us the same Joy that Jesus was speaking of. We can confidently say this because we have His Spirit within us and He provides Joy as we listen to Him, as we read the Scripture and as we rely on Him for all things.
Is our joy different from the happiness that is sought so desperately by the world? As you should be aware by now, the answer to this question is an unequivocal YES. Our joy is different because of Who it is based on – our joy is not dependent on circumstances or things. Our joy is based on the Person and work of Jesus Christ, and we experience it through the power of His indwelling Holy Spirit.
In speaking of Galatians 5:22, Author Keri Wyatt Kent says:
“This verse is not a to-do list for us to work through, but a description of the transformation that occurs when God’s Spirit begins to work in us.”
This week, pray that the Holy Spirit would continue this transformation by enlarging your love and joy in Christ. Ruminate about keeping the commands of our Lord so that you can abide in His love. Then, take action and do that which the Lord commands. I believe that you will find that your joy will be abundant as you live and serve Him through the power of His Spirit.
Blessings to you and I pray that you will continue to walk with me as we learn about the fruit of the Holy Spirit and as we mature in our transformation into Christian believers who speak and act as Jesus did and who share in the passions that Jesus had for the lost sheep and for the worship of His Father, the Almighty God.