Joy: a Fruit of the Spirit

“The fruit of the Spirit is… joy”  Galatians 5:22

Joy Comes from the Spirit

The source of true joy comes from the Holy Spirit.  It is His fruit.  It is what He produces.  The Bible says that there is great joy in salvation (possessing the Spirit).  Knowing our sins are forgiven and having assurance of future rest brings a joy that the worst of this world cannot tarnish.  Not its loneliness, nor its sickness, nor poverty can affect the joy of the seal of the Spirit in salvation.  “Rejoice , because your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:20b)  You are being romanced by the God of Joy; great joy will come from discovering the evidences of His pursuit!

Not only does joy spring forth because of the Spirit’s indwelling, but also because of the Spirit’s influence.  As we surrender more and more to the Holy Spirit’s control, we will begin to see these nine virtues (Gal. 5:22-23) grow in us.  We can no more make these come out of our souls than we can grow any other fruit out of our bodies… it is silly to assume any different!  We must be connected to the source at the root.  John 15:4-5, 11: “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.”

Abiding in Him will always result in His fruit in us.  If we are not bearing fruit, it is evidence that we are not abiding in Him.  We cannot fake it or cover it up with Christian service / works.  The Spirit isn’t barren or fruitless… joy will come if the Spirit has control and if we are connected to God! If we lack joy, the answer is in the presence of the Lord (Psalm 16:11).

Joy comes from sharing the Spirit with others.  The Holy Spirit  loves to bring us together and to use us in expanding the kingdom.  When saints share the gospel, when they share the Spirit of faith with each other and with sinners, there is great joy.  “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” (3 John 4)  “There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.” (Luke 15:10)

Joy Gives a Special Strength

History bears record that many a martyr has sung praises to God while being burned alive, they were last seen smiling when facing lions in Rome’s Colosseum, they could be heard whistling their last night away on death row.  The underground, persecuted church often got too loud as they praised the Lord in the catacombs.  Yes, joy brings a certain strength to the Christian;  “for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10)

It is interesting to note, in different people, the various levels of joy: its frequency in our heart.  For many, joy is a rare treat.  With others, it is more frequent.  They experience joy in seasons (see 2 Cor. 6:10).  For some, it seems almost constant (although not always displayed with smiles and song at every moment).  The important thing to recognize is not necessarily joy’s frequency, but joy’s growth.  Christians should be ever increasing in joy’s strength.  “That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ… “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say , Rejoice.” (Philippians 1:26; 4:4)

At this point, we must be reminded that joy and happiness are not the same thing.  True joy is because of Jesus, while happiness is founded on happenings.  Joy is rooted in the Christian’s reality, but happiness finds its source in our feelings.  Joy ripens under the most remarkable of circumstances – yet this fruit must be carefully cultivated (Ps. 32:11).  Sometimes, joy doesn’t seem natural – that’s because it is spiritual.

The vows of God are upon you, O believer, and they bind you to be joyful.  – C.H. Spurgeon

Joy should be Shown

A joy that is secret is not true joy.  Sometimes, it might be unspeakable (1 Peter 1:8) – but it never should be unspoken.  Joy expressed damages Satan’s empire like none other.  Show your joy by singing.  James 5:13: ” Is any merry ? let him sing psalms.” Why is it hard for Christians to sing?  They are forgiven, they are loved, they are free.  “Come let us sing a psalm and spite the Devil.”  (-Martin Luther)

Reveal your joy in service to the Master.  The only tragic motivation many know is guilt.  Some will not do anything because of guilt, others will do everything because of guilt.  Paul’s message to the first church was to serve and give from their spirits, as a means of showing their love, motivated by sheer joy.  “But none of these things move me , neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.  I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak , and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said , It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:24, 35)

God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.  -John Piper

Joy can be Stolen

Your joy is potent.  It is a strengthening agent, it is a blessing to any home, it is a powerful witness to the world.  Remember, the Devil is a Thief who wants to steal from you your joy.  Beware of the following things that can rob you of your joy:
1. Unconfessed sin – “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.  Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.” (Psalm 51:10,12)
2. When outgo exceeds intake – If we do not stay connected to the Vine, we will begin to lose our source of joy.  We can get too busy, too exhausted to keep going without a steady diet of God’s Word and the power only found in His presence.  (see 1 Kings 19; Elijah)
3. Misplaced focus – throughout the book of Philippians, Paul encourages believers to keep looking to Jesus as the source of joy (as opposed to the world’s pleasures, to careers / accomplishments, to possessions / more stuff).

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