God's Words: Joy
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
We are continuing our devotional series looking at the key “God Words” that Paul used in Galatians 5:22-23, which says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” This week’s topic is a great word: Joy. What does this word mean to you?
Are joy and happiness the same thing?
No, there is a great difference between joy and happiness. Happiness is related to what happens to us, but joy is something we can have no matter what happens to us. We feel happy when everything is going well for us. If someone gave you a lot of money, it would probably make you happy. For others, new clothes would make them especially happy. When we get the things we want, it makes us very happy. However, when we do not get the things that we want, we become sad, depressed or even angry. Have you ever seen children get mad when they did not get something they wanted? They may create a fuss, cry or even stomp their feet.
Can we have joy when difficult things happen in our life?
Joy is very different than happiness because it is something that we can have when things are not going so well in our lives. The word “joy” simply means to be glad. So much in life robs us of a happy attitude. It could be someone who treats you in an unkind way or any kind of suffering in your life. What if you lose your job or fall and hurt yourself? There are many ways to lose a happy outlook, since is related directly to your circumstances. If circumstances are good, then you are probably happy. But joy is something that God gives to us even when things are not going well.
How could Jesus have joy when He knew that He had to hang on a cross?
Joy comes from knowing that no matter what may happen to us, our heavenly Father is in control of our lives and that we have eternal life. Hebrews 12:2 says this about Jesus: “for the joy that was set before Him, [He] endured the cross, despising the shame…” Jesus had joy because He knew that His Father was in control of everything that was happening to Him, and that when His suffering was finished, His Father would be honored for what He was doing.
Why do we feel so little joy in our lives?
Often when someone is missing joy in their life, it is because their attention is on things in life that do not have any lasting value. One of the main goals of the Christian life is to live in such a way that God is deeply honored by it. When we live that way, the Holy Spirit produces joy in our lives. You can actually reach a place in your life where you rejoice when difficult things happen to you.
God calls us to lift our eyes away from the visible, temporary things, and to focus on what is invisible and eternal: “As we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18) The Holy Spirit infuses this kind of life with joy, and it is this kind of life that brings glory and honor to God.
I can remember many times in my life when people treated me in a shameful way, but I made a choice that I was not going to treat them how they treated me. The result was that God gave me great joy! I was joyful because I knew that my response to something difficult was pleasing to my heavenly Father.
Can knowing the truth about God and eternal life give us joy?
Simply knowing that you are God’s child, and that you will spend eternity in Heaven with Him, should bring great joy into your life. Knowing that nothing that happens in life can prevent God from accomplishing His perfect will in your life should bring you great joy. Knowing that your heavenly Father has forgiven you of all of your sins should bring you great joy.
James 1:2 says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.” Why can James say that? It is because he knew that God was in complete control of everything that would happen to him. He knew that nothing could separate him from the love of God that he had in knowing Christ as his Savior. Romans 15:13 seems to say it best, though: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” The more of your life that you give to Christ, the greater your joy will be – even when life does not seem to treat you fairly.
Pray this week:
Lord Jesus, would you please help me to see life the way that You see it so that I can have true joy in my life?
Am I willing to allow God to teach me about true joy, rather than complaining when difficult things happen to me?