But, I want to talk about JOY.
Americans are addicted to ‘happiness’. Never mind if it’s right or wrong, as long as it makes you happy — that’s the important thing. But happiness is shallow, temporary, dependent on surroundings and feeling. It’s not a gage to measure morality. Telling someone to do whatever makes them happy might be very poor advice.
Here are some of my thoughts on JOY:
JOY is rooted in Christ.
We often mix up joy and happiness. They are not the same. Happiness can be separate from Christ, God’s Joy cannot. Joy is the fruit of His goodness in our lives. It’s not something He doles out in discriminating portions, greater for His favorites, less for the ordinary.
It’s not possible to have Jesus and not have Joy, because Christ is the endless source.
Joy is a fruit. It’s the second “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22) The first being love. Our awareness of JOY grows as our relationship with Him grows, but the seed of that JOY came in its fullness when we opened our hearts to Him.
A thought: Have you considered that the listing of the fruits of the Spirit is a progression? Everything stems from being rooted and grounded in love for Christ (#1) If we are in relationship with Him, we’ll have joy (#2). If we have love and joy, we’ll have peace (#3). If we have love, joy and peace, we’ll have long-suffering and gentleness and so forth.
Joy doesn’t run out. You can’t use up your joy and then need more. We can lose the sense, or awareness of His joy, but it never leaves us. It doesn’t drain away when life comes down hard and we’re torn to pieces by tragedy, happiness does, but not JOY. Because our JOY is a Person.
Joy comes mixed with hope. It’s the cement that holds us together when our circumstances are saying there is no hope. When Bill died, I had a deep JOY knowing the hope that I would come through the grief. It supersedes circumstances, feelings and surroundings. It’s present through the saddest times, and the greatest pain. It’s present when you’re happy and when you’re not, because our JOY is Jesus.
Joy is our strength. “The joy of the Lord is our strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10) During this period in Israel’s history, the law of the Lord had been forgotten. Nehemiah brought it back. The people’s awareness of their sin brought tears mingled with gratitude and Nehemiah said, “This day is holy unto the Lord . . . therefore, mourn not, nor weep: go your way; eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared . . . for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
Notice JOY’s connection with the Word (law) of the Lord, and sharing what you have with others. Maybe our lack of joy is connected with spiritual starvation and self-centeredness.
Joy is by faith. Circumstances may rob our happiness, but nothing can steal our joy. We have joy when we are at rest in Him. However, we can have all the money we need in the bank, but we don’t withdraw any we will always remain poor. Sometimes we have to reach for what we need. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7) What stands on the other side of the door you’re knocking on? Is it a thing? A feeling? Or is it a Person?
Do you need JOY? It’s yours, in Christ, already.