Fruits of the Spirit: Joy

by: Bill Bratt


The apostle Paul admonished true Christians to "walk in the Spirit" and if we do then we will "not fulfill the lust of the flesh" (Galatians 5:16.) So how do we walk in the Spirit? Paul continues in the next five verses in telling us what the "works of the flesh" are and then he answers the question of how do we walk in the Spirit when he says: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, {23} gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law" (Galatians 5:22-23.)

Letís take a look at "joy," which is the second in the list of the fruits of the Spirit.

The Greek word for "joy" in this verse is "chara" which could be defined as: "cheerfulness, calm delight, gladness, exceedingly joyful.

Letís notice a few different areas of "joy."

God wants us to be Filled with Joy

The apostle Paul tells us that it is Godís will that we be literally filled with joy: "Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit" (Romans 15:13.)

Some people think of joy as the end result of some kind of self-gratification - a new car, a house, a boat, a new computer. Physically speaking, when things go your way, the emotion you feel is joy.

The Bible gives us a much deeper and richer meaning to this vital fruit of Godís Spirit. Jesus said: "I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance. {8} "Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? {9} "And when she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbors together, saying, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost!' {10} "Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents." (Luke 15:7-10.)

What causes the angels to have joy? Their joy is in seeing others receive something that is very good for them - in this case as a result of peoplesí repentance, which eventually leads them to eternal life in Godís kingdom.

What Kind of Joy Does Jesus Experience?

The writer of the Book of Hebrews says: " looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Hebrews 12:2.) Jesus Christ was willing to suffer, while looking forward to the real joy that He would experience, afterward in seeing fellow heirs, His disciples, born into the Kingdom of God which was made possible only through the sacrifice of His life.

Joy received from personal gratification, satisfaction or pleasure is only temporary. The car wears out, the boat sinks, the house needs repairs and the computer has a virus. Thereís nothing wrong with enjoying physical things but we have to realize that physical things can never bring permanent, lasting joy.

Jesus Christ and the righteous angels receive joy from the outgoing giving of themselves to God and others! This kind of inner spiritual joy lasts for all eternity and does not require gaining new possessions of physical things.

We are to Joy in the Lord

David was a man after Godís own heart (Acts 13:22) and he wrote many of the Psalms in which he rejoiced in the Lord: " Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, you righteous; And shout for joy, all you upright in heart!" (Psalms 32:11.) The psalmist rejoiced over Godís righteousness (71:14-16), salvation (21:1, 71:23), word (119:14, 162) and faithful-ness (33:1-6.)

In the days of Ezra and Nehemiah, Ezra the priest brought the law before the congregation on the Feast of Trumpets, which is the first day of the seventh month, and he read from the Book of the Law standing on a wooden platform located in the open square that was in front of the Water Gate and the people were very attentive and respectful. They bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground (Nehemiah 8:1-7.) "Then he said to them, "Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our LORD. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength." (Nehemiah 8:10.)

Godís seven annual Holy Days, as listed in Leviticus 23, are always times to rejoice before the Lord. These are the "Feasts of the Lord" (Leviticus 23:2, 44) and God specifically commanded His people to rejoice before Him during the seven days of the Feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:39-40, Deuteronomy 16:14-15.) Notice that if you keep Godís Feast Days with joy then God will make you joyful: "And they kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with joy; for the LORD made them joyful" (Ezra 6:22.)

Jesus, on the Passover on the night before He was crucified, told His disciples: "If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them" (John 13:17 KJV.)

We are to Joy in our Salvation

Habakkuk prophesied: "Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation" (Habakkuk 3:18.)

Psalms 51 is Davidís prayer of repentance after he had committed adultery with Bathsheba. Letís notice part of his prayer relating to "joy": "Make me hear joy and gladness, That the bones You have broken may rejoice. {9} Hide Your face from my sins, And blot out all my iniquities. {10} Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. {11} Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. {12} Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit (Psalms 51:8-12.)

We are to Joy in our Trials

James said: "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials," (James 1:2.)

Trials reveal where we put our faith rather than where we say we put it.

Peter said: "Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; {13} but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy" (1 Peter 4:12-13.

Fiery trials can come from many sources: job, health problems, marital, financial, etc. These trials force you to your knees and they test your faith. The trying of our faith produces patience and as an end result we develop spiritual character. Spiritual growth is measured by character development.

In conclusion: Joy is not just a fringe benefit of God's Holy Spirit, given only so that you can feel better. It must flow through you, so that the joy you feel will also be felt by others.

We need to share this inner joy.