The Fruit Of The Spirit Is Love (Part 2. Love's Aspect - Joy)
Although a part of a series, this article is a Complete study on its own. (2 of 9 in series)
* all [bracketed] words in Scripture verses are mine *
What would cause an Almighty God to leave His throne in heaven and to take on the form of sinning mankind? What would cause Him to devise a plan to redeem mankind that included a bloody cross and judgment upon Himself as if He had sinned? What makes God care when a sparrow falls to the earth or what makes Him care how many hairs a person has on their head? Of course the answer is love. (Matthew 10:29; Luke 12:7)
What is Love? How powerful is love? It is so powerful that an all-knowing God who cannot lie says of Himself: "God is Love." That's a Scripture we quote all the time but we quote it as if we were speaking of God. We must remember that all Scripture is "God-breathed" and these words are what God has said about Himself. Now the words have more impact.. The same God that says of Himself- "God is love" also says "Love never fails." That makes love the most powerful thing in the universe. Forces of evil don't even come close to the all-consuming power of God.
"He that does not love does not know God, for God is love." (1 John 4:8)
"[Love] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails." (1 Corinthians 13:7-8)
Jesus said that everything in the Bible hangs on the principle of love. He said it was the greatest commandment. He said that if we truly loved God with all of our heart and we truly loved our neighbor as ourselves, God considered the Law fulfilled. In return for this obedience of loving God and neighbor, we reap dividends of love's presence in our lives. We will see actions and our minds change for the good. We would become more Christ-like. Feeling real joy and knowing real peace, we would be long-suffering and kind. We would be gentle and meek. The working of love would produce fruit and reap rewards, glorifying God.
"Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Matthew 22:36-40)
"Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind." (Philippians 2:1-2)
Peace and the other aspects of love will elude you if you don't focus on loving as laid out in the "Great Commandment." The light of God as it shines through the jewel of His love, separates into the rainbow listed in Galatians 5.
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, [which is manifested in] joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control." (Galatians 5:22-23)
The Fruit Of The Spirit is Love - Love's Expression - Joy
Listen to Christians who know the Joy of the Lord and you will hear people try to explain the "unexplainable." Though it looks to the observer like happiness, believers are quick to tell you that joy is quite different from happiness. Happiness depends on happenstance. If a child gets an ice cream cone, he is happy. If that cone breaks and the ice cream falls to the ground, their happiness is gone. Joy is not like that. Joy is so valuable to the individual, many would give everything they own, just to hold a little joy in their heart.
The world cannot understand the joy of the Lord because it is a bi-product of love and love's source, God's Spirit. The world does not know God in that sense and would have you believe that we are simple animals in the biological sense. But animals do not have in their psyches a mechanism for joy. A little food, a little company, a little space to roam and most animals are just fine. People, however can heap to themselves everything that they can think of to cause them happiness; have others that care for them all around; possess every trinket that money can buy; and still feel as if there is a hole in their heart.
Why? Because all humans have a basic need that only joy will fill.
It has been said, "If Christians were balloons, joy would inflate them and peace would keep them afloat." If you think of a balloon, every cubic inch of its insides is filled with air and though the atmosphere and the vinyl of the balloon itself pushes against that air on the inside, it remains full and round. In this analogy, joy fills the life of the Spirit-filled loving Christian just like the air in that balloon. Though the flesh and the world push at it all around, joy remains resilient and bounces back. Joy keeps its happy shape despite circumstance.
"My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience." (James 1:2-3)
Joy is a life principle involving priorities of service more than just a simple good feeling. You can prioritize the order easily by saying: Jesus First, Others second, Yourself last (or better stated, "Yourself will come after"). It is as if the ministry to Jesus and to others were catalysts that cause other reactions to occur in the servant. And yes, among those results are the happiest of "warm-fuzzies!"
So all I have to do as a born-again believer is serve God and serve others and then I will experience the Joy of the Lord? Essentially, yes. Defiance and disobedience disrupts the flow of joy to the believer and worshipful obedience brings a cascade of Joy from above.
"You will show me the path of life; in your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forever more." (Psalms 16:11)
So what does joy feel like in the believer? When God describes joy in the Bible, He says it is "unspeakable and full of glory." The joy of the Lord seems to defy description but we can say some things about its nature. First of all, it is an understanding. It is a sense that you have done right, though wrong is all around you. Joy is a sense of satisfaction, a knowing you've not wasted your day, a feeling of productivity and fulfillment. It is a sense that the day has excitement, an expectation of promise that will be fulfilled immediately and again right around the corner, and on into eternity. It is something that you can know as well as feel. When a person is focused on Jesus, serving Him first, loving others and serving them as Jesus commanded, the person feels full. They feel contented, needing very little, and doing very little to serve themselves. In fact, the joyful heart cares little for self. It gets its energy from doing for others and then gives all the glory to God.
"Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you don't see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory." (1 Peter 1:8)
Secondly, joy is a result of the Spirit working His will in your life. God's will is that all men be spared hell. (That punishment was prepared for the devil and his angels). Joy, like all of the facets of God's spiritual fruit, works toward the result of doing God's will. People will notice the difference in you. Joy makes you stand out like a lighthouse on a dark and stormy night. While everyone complains about the weather, the joyful Christian is thanking God for the day He's made. Trials hit your life and all see a person that not only weathers the storm but smiles in the midst of trials. "What causes such a strange behavior?" they will ask. Then you tell them of Jesus' love and how they too can have life eternal and a joy unspeakable and full of glory.
"Then He will say to those on the left hand, "Depart from Me, you accursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels." (Matthew 5:41)
"Then the King will say to those on His right hand, "Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." (Matthew 5:34)
The joy of the Lord will light up a room and draw people to you. Give them the love of Jesus Christ through that Joy for the glory of Almighty God.
What kind of person are you? Are you solemn or bubbly? Are you turned inward or outward? Do you know true joy or are you a happenstance person that waits for the next few dollars and everything to go right? It could be that you are the happenstance person, the one searching for true happiness. You may have heard that happiness cannot be purchased so waiting for money won't do. The world is full of pain, so waiting for everything to align just right so that you can have a temporary over-rated good feeling, may never happen. Most people waiting for happiness realize this and make do with just feeling good. I want to tell you that true joy is better than happiness. The good part of joy feels better by far and the suffering part of joy makes the suffering bearable. Yes, with joy there will be trials but joy will not stop because of them as happiness does. Yet so many people reject joy because they reject Jesus, the source of all joy.
Let me ask you: Do you feel a hole in your heart and soul and have been trying to fill it with everything and nothing has closed it? Have you longed to be less depressed, less worried, less forlorn? Then call out to the God of Joy and invite Him into your life. Consider a God that saw His creation sin and condemn itself. He knew that the payment for that sin had to come from something other than mankind itself so He took off his heavenly glory and clothed Himself in a fleshly body to be born of a virgin maid. He grew up among sinners and yet did not sin because He was God in human flesh. He let Himself be tried and sentenced for things that He had not done. He let Himself be nailed to a cross and hung between heaven and earth, then stayed hanging there when He could have come down from that pain and comdemnation. He allowed all His blood to be poured out because as He looked through the corridors of time he saw you and knew that you would go to hell if He did not pay for your sin. He was buried and on the third day He arose from that grave. Do you believe this?
If you do, pray this:
Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for coming to earth to die for my sins. Thank you for all the pain you suffered for me. I turn to You now Jesus because I am a sinner and I need You to save me. I believe in Your death, burial and resurrection. Please forgive me of my sin and save me. I turn from my sin and turn to You as the only way of salvation. Thank You for hearing me and saving me for I pray this in Jesus' mighty and holy name. Amen.
Others in this series of independent articles: