Let us now continue with our examination of the manifestations of the fruit of the Spirit with “joy,” as Paul says in Galatians 5:22-23:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control; against such there is no law.
The word translated above as “joy” is the Greek word chara, defined by Thayer’s as:
1) joy, gladness
1a) the joy received from you
1b) the cause or occasion of joy
1b1) of persons who are one’s joy
This term is used throughout the New Testament to refer to any form of joy. The term is used to refer to the emotion felt by many who receive the word of God (Matthew 13:20 and Mathew 13:44), the feeling that pervaded many of the early churches (2 Corinthians 8:2 and Philippians 1:25), and the feeling of Paul toward the churches and to those faithful to God (2 Corinthians 2:3, Philippians 4:1, 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20, and 2 Timothy 1:4).
The New Testament therefore reveals that Christians are to be a people of joy since we do have many reasons to be joyful. Our Lord has redeemed us from a world of sin and we may look forward to an eternity with Him; what kind of future do many look for? We have the company of brethren of like-minded faith, a source of constant encouragement. We have the promise from our Lord that our physical necessities will be taken care of (Matthew 6:25-34). We also see in the New Testament that the Christians were certainly joyful people, constantly being confirmed in their faith and hope in Christ Jesus. This should come as no surprise to us when we read Paul’s definition of the Kingdom of God in Romans 14:17:
For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
We may see, therefore, that joy ought to be a major part of the life of a Christian, and for good reason: if one cannot find joy after being redeemed from all that is evil and given the hope for all that is good, what will give such a person joy? Being the people of the Lord and doing His will should bring us joy and ought not be perceived as a burden! Do we have the same attitude as David exhibits in Psalm 122:1?
I was glad when they said unto me, “Let us go unto the house of the LORD.”
We should always be joyful to exercise the privilege of offering worship and praise to our Lord and God.
In order to be truly joyful, however, we must also work toward the things that may lead to such joy. Paul explains many of these things in Philippians 2:1-4:
If there is therefore any exhortation in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any tender mercies and compassions, make full my joy, that ye be of the same mind, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind; doing nothing through faction or through vainglory, but in lowliness of mind each counting other better than himself; not looking each of you to his own things, but each of you also to the things of others.
These things, while often very difficult, must be done in order to achieve the joy of unity and peace in the Lord. We must also look to the example of Jesus, who endured shameful acts to reach the joy set before Him, as explained in Hebrews 12:1-2:
Therefore let us also, seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising shame, and hath sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
We must look with joy to persecutions and other trials of our faith, as James explains for us in James 1:2-4:
Count it all joy, my brethren, when ye fall into manifold temptations; knowing that the proving of your faith worketh patience. And let patience have its perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, lacking in nothing.
Joy is a powerful feeling, a very positive and uplifting feeling that propelled the Christians of the first century churches to proclaim the name of their Lord everywhere in the world. They understood the great things that had been done for them, that Jesus died for their sins and that they were thus given the hope of eternal life with Him in glory. We should therefore not be surprised that as they looked out upon a hopeless world they were filled with joy because of their faith in the promises that were already given. There is no joy that can surpass the joy that may be found in Christ Jesus, for there is no other name under Heaven that may lead to our salvation for all eternity. If we have a joyful perspective prepared for anything that may occur to us, what can stop us? Will persecution stop us or strengthen us? Will adversity weaken us or make us stronger? If we may walk through life full of the joy that is present in Christ Jesus, what worldly force can prevent us from obtaining Heaven?
Let us now strive to live a life full of joy and thus demonstrate the presence of fruit of the Spirit within us.
Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, in the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13).