Praying for Joy in the Gospel of John
The Greek word for "joy" transliterates as "chara." If I had to name one of my daughters over again I would consider chara as a good name. Chara is delight, gladness, rejoicing, and merriness. The Greek word for "grace" is "charis" and shares the same root as "chara." Grace and joy are interrelated in the New Testament. Joy comes from suddenly recognizing you have received grace from God. You didn't see or understand the depth or magnitude of God's grace toward you and you didn't have joy. But when your eyes are opened and your mind comprehends the grace and mercy of God you experience joy. Joy comes from realizing the undeserved grace and love of God displayed toward you.
One more note on joy. Joy is one of the "fruits" of the Holy Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23) "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, JOY, peace..." "Fruits" means joy is something the Spirit of God produces in us. We can pray for the Spirit of God to give us joy and produce more joy in us. We can ask God to give us joy unspeakable and joy in spite of any circumstances at any time.
A few notes;
- Scriptures are from the ESV Bible.
- Chara is mentioned in four sections in the Gospel of John.
- There will be a suggested prayer italicized at the end of each section.
"Lord, help me to see Your grace and mercy in my life so I can experience joy. Help me to recognize and understand all the ways You show me grace so I will have more joy in You. Through Your Holy Spirit grow more joy in my heart, thoughts, attitudes, and feelings.
The Joy of Him Increasing and You Decreasing
The first mention of "joy" in the Gospel of John comes not from Jesus but from John the Baptist. The context (a context is the surrounding passage and circumstances) in John 3: 29-30 is of John the Baptist's disciples coming to him with concerns over his diminishing ministry compared to the rising ministry of Jesus. Joy is used 2x in verse 29. John says "...29 The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly (chara)at the bridegroom's voice. Therefor this joy of mine is now complete. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.
But instead of envy or anger at being usurped John has joy in seeing the rise of Jesus. John has joy in yielding the stage to Jesus. A time of joy has come with the emergence of Jesus and John the Baptist has been waiting for this day and readily embraces it. "He must increase, but I must decrease," and John's joy is full.
Joy is giving way to Jesus in our lives. Joy is putting the spotlight on Jesus and not ourselves. We experience joy when people realize Jesus is way more important and exciting than we are. We experience joy when we want people to be more enthralled with Jesus than with ourselves. We experience joy when people become attached to and dependent on Jesus and not ourselves.
Lord, may my life point to Your greatness and not my own that my joy may be made full. Help me to know how and when to put the spotlight on You Jesus. Lord, may Your glory and fame be ever-increasing through my life.
The Joy of Abiding with Jesus
9As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. John 15:9-11
To "abide" means to live in, dwell, and remain in. The whole context of John 15 is of a vine trunk and branches. Jesus is the vine and trunk of the tree and we are to be the branches. As a branch naturally grows in length and diameter from being attached to the trunk so we grow from abiding and living in Jesus. And being connected to Jesus and receiving life and strength from Him also means receiving JOY from Him as well. John 15:11, "...that my joy may be in you." Wow. The joy of Jesus "in" you and I? Yes.
What is the joy of Jesus? Jesus has joy in creating life. Jesus has joy in forgiving. Jesus has joy in healing, saving, and making things new. Jesus has joy in bringing dead things back to life. May His joy be in us in the same way.
Lord, help me to abide in You and live in You. Attach me to Yourself as a branch to a Vine. Make me inseparable to Yourself. Jesus, may Your joy be in me, so my joy is made full.
The Joy of Abiding in Jesus
The Joy of Obedience
10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. John 15:10-11
Obedience to Jesus leads to joy. Abiding in love comes first. Obedience comes second and is the natural overflow of abiding and living in Jesus. We love Jesus for all He has done for us, and we we obey out of our love for Him and our joy is made full. This is no dry legalism or "have to." This is not obedience for the sake of earning favor or merit with God. This is joyful obedience to the Lord because we love Him. We are the primary beneficiaries of our own loyal obedience to Jesus. If you are sick you go to a doctor. The doctor gives you instructions to obey to get well. You get well and you have joy. Jesus is our doctor and we know joy when we obey Him and follow His prescriptions.
A few more thoughts on why obedience leads to joy. When we obey Jesus we live a life to truth and rightness. A life obeying Jesus is a life of love. We experience a life of true purpose and significance when we obey Jesus. This is why obedience to Jesus produces joy. When we pray for an enemy as He commands us to we experience love, freedom, and joy. When we obey Him by telling a friend about His death and resurrection we experience joy. When we obey Him by forgiving someone who has wronged us we know joy.
Lord, increase my love for You so I may obey You more fully. I obey You because I love You. Give me grace and courage to love and obey You. Let me know the joy that comes from obeying You Jesus.
20Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy.21When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world.22So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. John 16:20-22
No one will take your JOY from you. The context of John 16 is Jesus talking to His disciples about His imminent death and resurrection. Jesus uses the metaphor of a woman giving birth to illustrate how His disciples will experience sorrow, anguish, despair, and then an unstoppable joy.
Grief and hopelessness will be replaced by lasting joy. The resurrection of Jesus turns pain and loss of hope into overwhelming joy.
The finality and power of death will be replaced by unstoppable joy. The resurrection of Jesus takes away the fear and power of death.
Lord, You died on the cross for my sins and You rose again from the dead. You have conquered death and sin. Jesus, take my grief and despair and give me Your joy. Take my fear of death and give me Your joy unstoppable. No one and nothing can take Your joy away from me. Fill me with Your joy unspeakable.
Joy to the Full
Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. John 3:29
These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. John 15:11
24Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. John 16:24
13But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. John 17:13
Unique to John is the Greek word "pleroo" usually accompanying "chara." "Pleroo" means "to make full, complete, to fill to capacity, fill up, amply supply." In all four passages where Chara appears there is an accompanying qualifier "making full." It's a distinguishing mark to set the joy God gives in Jesus as distinct, superior, and more complete than any joy the world offers.
God desires to give us a complete and full joy to the capacity our hearts can carry. We cannot get more joy from some other source. We cannot exhaust the joy of God. God's supply of joy is greater than our capacity for joy. God's supply of joy is limitless while our capacity for joy is limited. The joy God offers is a joy that completes us.
Lord, Your joy alone is the complete and perfect joy. Fill us with Your joy to our capacity. Make us full and complete in Your joy so others will be attracted to Your joy. Strengthen, heal, and complete us with Your joy.