The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Gal. 5:22-23)
What does it mean to have joy? Jesus said to the disciples in John 15:11 that “these things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” Then later when warning them about his death on the cross, he says “you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you” (Jn. 16:22). Why does he say “no one will take your joy from you”? Are Christians always to be joyful? How is that possible when we live in a world plagued with so much conflict and misery? Christians often confuse happiness with joy. However, the word happiness or happy is derived from the word hap, which comes from Middle English meaning happen or happenings. Thus, happiness is tied to our circumstances or what is happening around us or to us. When things are going well, we are happy. When things are not going well, we are unhappy or sad. This is normal human behavior. To display sorrow when a loved one passes or we are diagnosed with a debilitating disease is normal. However, joy is very different from happiness. Joy that the believer experiences is not tied to this world or anything that is happening in our surroundings. Joy comes from knowing God and from being in covenant relationship with him. David says of God in Psalm 16 that “in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore are found in and derived from God. Thus, for the believer, consistent joy comes from knowing that no matter what happens in this life, this world is not our home and death is when real life begins.
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