Welcome back to our study on the fruits of the Spirit! We started off looking at love and how this can be applied in daily life. Now we are on to the next fruit: JOY!
Here is my favorite definition from the Merriam-Webster dictionary:
- a source or cause of delight: What gives you delight? For me, it’s the people in my life, God, hobbies, science, music, reading, learning, and many more! Remembering those things that give us delight can be a good way to mitigate the difficult moments. Am I feeling discouraged? Call a good friend and spend some time together. Am I feeling depressed? Get out of the house and do something active that I enjoy.
Now I have to admit that initially when I sifted through my Bible, not all the verses I found on joy had me doing cartwheels. Many verses had references to “trials” and “perseverance”. But what about being happy? Inspired by my husband who has studied ancient Greek, I decided to look up the original Greek word for joy which is “chara“. Rather than an expression of mere happiness, it alludes more to a sense of appreciative gladness.
So, it seems that joy is more of an attitude than just a state of being. Being joyful or rejoicing is choosing to give thanks and be grateful even in the face of difficult circumstances. It doesn’t mean we pretend that nothing is wrong or that we do not need support. It means we are choosing to believe that something good will come out of it and that even now in those challenging moments, there is still something to be grateful for. Very much easier said than done of course but I’m hoping to come back and read this whenever I’m having trouble being joyful!
Here are some of my favorite verses on the topic of joy:
- “sorrowful yet always rejoicing…having nothing and yet possessing everything” 2 Corinthians 6:10. This was in the context of the hardships Paul was going through as he was being persecuted for his faith. I think this translates well to other situations in life. We may be going through tough times, we may not have much, but yet we are rejoicing. This does not mean that I always have a smile plastered on my face, but internally, I know God is in control of every situation even when it doesn’t feel like it.
- “Consider it pure joy…whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work in you so that you may be mature and complete…” James 1:2-4. In the past, this was one of those verses that I tended to scout over and try to ignore because I didn’t like the idea of being “tested”. But I have had great role models in my life who have been amazingly strong through the most adverse situations and they have quoted this verse to me often. It reminds me of the verse on being refined by fire and surely life does refine us.
- “I have set the Lord continually before me; Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will dwell securely” Psalm 16:9. I love the simplicity of this verse. It exudes an assurance of security in Christ and this in itself is a reason to be joyful!
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control”. Galations 5:22-23.