When we think about being joyful, most people equate it with being happy. Nothing could be further from the truth. True joy has no connection at all with being happy.
The words happy and happen come from the same root word. When something just happens it’s a random occurrence. We get happy because something good happens. Joy, on the other hand, has nothing at all to do with what’s happening around us.
The textbook definition of joy is to be calmly happy or well-off. The fruit of joy goes a little further than that.
We need to understand God’s definition of joy. Jesus talks about receiving His joy in John chapter 15. It doesn’t take much reading to see that the main emphasis of that chapter was for us to remain in Christ.
“Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”
Here Jesus talks about remaining in Him and bearing much fruit. So the fruit of joy must be included in that. But what, specifically, about remaining in Him brings us joy? The Lord goes on to talk about it with His disciples.
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”
It’s a wonderful thing to be in Christ. But there’s another step to take if you want His joy. You have to cultivate that love relationship with Him. That’s remaining in His love.
When you’re in a relationship with someone, then you know your place in that love. In a relationship, I love you, and I know that you love me. That’s what this joy is all about.
The joy of the Lord is the assurance from the Holy Spirit of who I am in Christ. It’s knowing who Christ is, and who I am in Him. If I’m in the Healer, then I’m healed. If I’m in the Provider, then I’m provided for.
It’s the sense of well-being that springs from knowing who I am in Christ. It doesn’t matter what comes my way. If something bad happens; that doesn’t change the fact that I’m in Christ and He’s already provided the answer for it.
James understood this fact.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.
Why is a trial counted as joy? Because it will show off the truth that I’m in Christ. It will display who He is and why I trust Him. What I’m going through will cause others to trust the Lord the way I do.
A great example of this was the Macedonian Christians that Paul bragged about. When he was collecting an offering for the poor, he didn’t expect much from them, because they weren’t very wealthy.
Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.
2 Corinthians 8:2
Extreme poverty and rich generosity really shouldn’t be used to describe the same people. That is unless they know who they are in Christ. That makes all the difference. That’s the fruit of Joy.
Question: What was a recent time that you saw God’s joy operating through you?
© Nick Zaccardi 2017