Fruit of the Spirit: Joy
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”
The second fruit of the spirit is joy. Once we have love in our lives and the selflessness that comes with it, then God can start to impute joy upon us. As long as a man is focused on himself, he can never be truly happy, let alone joyful. But what is joy? Many view it as great happiness, which isn’t incorrect, but it is so much more than that. Some definitions Webster’s Dictionary gives are:
(1) The passion or emotion excited by the acquisition or expectation of good; that excitement of pleasurable feelings which is caused by success, good fortune, the gratification of desire or some good possessed, or by a rational prospect of possessing what we love or desire; gladness; exultation; exhilaration of spirits.
(2) Happiness; felicity.
(3) A glorious and triumphant state.
It is a feeling of exultation, of genuine contentedness. The main difference between happiness and joy is this: happiness is a temporary emotion that comes from current circumstances, but true joy comes from the Lord and continues with us no matter what difficulties we face. Happiness cannot exist with any negative emotion, but joy can carry through them. I have experienced this on several different occasions. When I think of my friend, Ethan, who passed away last year, it is usually accompanied by sadness. Yet through that sadness, I have joy knowing he is with his Savior. That sadness of loss steals away my happiness for a time, but my joy lingers on. Joy is so much more than just an emotion; it’s a state of mind.
How can we get joy? Well, as Galatians states, it’s a fruit of the Spirit. One cannot truly experience joy without submission to the Holy Spirit. We must also have the first fruit: love. If we can’t even love others and our God, how can we expect to have joy in our lives? Joy cannot exist when our hearts and lives aren’t in the right place. For many years, I fought with a certain sin. It ruined my ability to have joy. Despair and depression were my almost constant companions, and because of that I could not see the future and the God who was carrying me. When I finally gave it to God and became free, I finally began to truly experience joy. As I stated earlier, it is so much more than simply happiness. It lifts me up above my temporal struggles, and allows me to have hope in the future.
Recently, God has been sending new tests along into my life. Not tests of sin, but tests of faith and trust in God. With these tests come sadness and fear. If I look at the present, I see hopelessness and despair. How could any of this come out alright? But the joy I now have gives me hope. I can see beyond this current state, knowing and trusting that the same God who sent these trials along in the first place will bring me through them. And though I don’t know what lies in the end, I have joy knowing an omnipotent God is right beside me. Joy doesn’t allow me to see through the fog of the future, but allows me to see the Creator who controls it.
One more point I want to bring out is that joy is contagious. If you’ve ever been around someone who has joy, you know what I’m talking about. Even if things are going terribly wrong in their lives, they can still praise God and have an expression of joy through the tears. Your joy helps others as they go through their trials. Even if you don’t say anything, your simple smile can encourage those around you. So if you have joy, don’t hide it (it’s almost impossible to anyway). Hand this fruit to others and let them enjoy a taste of it. Once they do, they’ll want to produce some of their own. And we all know the world could use some more joy.