Guide to Goodness

Finding Life’s Meaning. Fruit of the Spirit: Joy

Art by Melanie Boutiette Just Beloved

As we mature in our spiritual journey, we realize that it is the little things that mean the most.  When we live in a manner worthy of our call, we trust completely in the Lord’s goodness, thanking him and blessing Him, with nothing wasted.  Our call is to love and live in the spirit of love.  Our purpose is to share the love of Christ that we have received with others.  When we stand on this firm foundation, we find life’s meaning in living with a purpose. 

Today, we explore the second fruit of the Spirit, joy.  Life is going to give us trials and tribulations, but we can have joy when our life is eternally ordered.  When our eyes are fixed on pure love, we can’t help but have a grateful heart, full of joy.  God protects those who hope in Him, and His holiness provides our firm foundation, bestowing abundant mercy upon us.  With Him as our ruler and our guide, the smallest moment is not wasted.  The littlest acts of love include such things as deferring to another, or offering words of encouragement, a smile, or some hope.  Nothing is wasted. Through this purpose and meaning, our moral life as Christians is sustained, we grow in holiness or wholeness and bear good fruit.

What are some of the benefits of learning, understanding, and living in the fruit of joy?

  • The word joy appears nearly 200 times in the Bible, which helps us understand its importance.
  • Joy is a condition of the heart. Our joy comes from Jesus – we can be filled with an amazing joy when we grasp just what He has done for us. When we truly understand our sin and how awful it is, and truly understand our Savior and how incredible he is, then there is nothing for us to do but be filled with thankfulness and joy at what is in store for us. In knowing Jesus, we can experience this joy in every situation.
  • People often confuse joy with happiness, but they are not interchangeable. Joy is from within, regardless of what is going on around you. Happiness can be a blurred emotion, dependent on a situation.
  • Joyful people make a commitment to gratitude regardless of the circumstances.
  • In Greek, the word for joy is ‘chara’ describing a feeling of inner gladness, delight, or rejoicing. This inner gladness leads to a cheerful heart and a cheerful heart leads to cheerful behavior.
  • The most important attribute of joy is that you can find joy in adversity. This can be a difficult idea to grasp because joy might be the last thing we are feeling when facing struggles. God knows our sorrows, heartaches and fears and He calls us to rejoice anyway. He wants us to live a life full of joy and promise.
  • Joy is an internal experience, and even through our own unhappy circumstances, we can find joy during the storm with our faith in God. This means that we can be strong, whether our circumstances are amazing or awful and despite what we are going through, because of the joy that we have in Jesus. This joy comes from the knowledge that Jesus is our king – that he died and rose from the dead for us, and that he has adopted us as His children, so that no matter what life might feel like, we have trust in God’s plan and in God’s great love for us.  My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song. Psalm 28:7
  • “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” James 1:2-3 In times of trials or difficult circumstances, the natural reaction is not joy. When things go wrong, and when we face trials, we so often become weary and despondent – perhaps getting angry or giving up on God altogether. But Nehemiah shows us that the joy of the Lord is our strength.

For the joy of the Lord is your strength.

Focus on His truth Nehemiah 8:10

How do we cultivate the fruit of joy? Here are a few ideas to get you started.

  • Turn to God in all things and turn back to him constantly. Make him king of your life and surrender your own desires for His plans.
  • Pray.  Block out prayer time on your calendar or set reminders on your phone to prompt you into action!
  • Try to find a Christian friend to help one another in this. Ask them to point out when you are joyless instead of joyful, so that you can see which areas of your life you are most worried about. Then try to give these up to God, again and again, asking him to give you his joy in all circumstances, joy which isn’t dependent on any earthly thing.
  • Make sure our priorities are in right order.  Since the fruit of the Spirit is exactly that, of the Spirit, we don’t need to muster up joy on our own or be happy when we are not.  Life can be hard.  If we aren’t feeling joy, perhaps our focus has become on things other than God’s love, mercy, and goodness.
  • Turn to God, put him in the center of our life, and ask him to move us to joy for all that he has done. When God is not at the center of our life, then our joy will fluctuate on moving targets such as our job, relationships, or other marks of worldly success, which may bring fleeting happiness, but not the fruit of joy. 

When our joy comes from knowing and loving Jesus, we have meaning and purpose.  Our eyes are focused on what is important and the storms of life are less likely to throw us off balance.  We believe and He fills us with an inexpressible and glorious joy! 

Smitten with the fruit of joy,

Cynthia

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