The Fruit of the Spirit: Joy

When I think of Joy I immediately think about the song by Steven Curtis Chapman What Kind of Joy Is This? This song talks about Paul and his life, which was characterized by two things: suffering and Joy. Paul was imprisoned, beaten, stoned, hated, persecuted, shipwrecked, and more- all because he did what was right. Yet despite all his physical and emotional suffering Paul was a man full of Joy. Why? Or more to the point, how?

 

Well, just as Love is a fruit of the Spirit beyond the ken of the human mind, so also is Joy. Love, as we looked at it last time is the supernatural result of being a child of God, and Joy is no different. But as love is manifested despite our natural emotions through the power of the Holy Spirit, Joy is manifested despite our circumstances.

 

The song I referred to earlier mentions one instance in Paul’s life that has always been a challenge to me, the imprisonment in the Philippian jail. Here Paul is falsely accused, imprisoned without cause or trial, and beaten. And what does he do? He starts a singspiration! Really! He begins to sing and worship God. (This, by the way, is why he is in prison.) Most modern people would automatically jump to the conclusion that Paul was either; mentally unstable, or suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. The answer is far more interesting. Paul is in the midst of the power of the Holy Spirit of God, which despite any circumstances manifests itself in Joy.

 

We all know them. Those, so called Christians, who seem to always be sucking on lemons. The ones who always seem to be dragging lead sleds uphill. But is that what Christians are like? I am sorry to burst some of y’ all’s bubbles but, no, it is NOT!! No matter where I look in Scripture I cannot find a sourpuss Christian. At least not one who is walking in obedience to God. And that is the key to Joy as the fruit of the Spirit, or any other fruits of the Spirit. Obedience is paramount to the work of the Spirit of God. Disobedient Christians have a broken fellowship with their Father who gives to them all good things. Therefore it is impossible for a disobedient Christian to have any of the fruit of the Spirit, including Joy.

 

Because of the tie between obedience and the fruit of the Spirit I keep coming back to the idea that Joy is the product of obedience. I stated above that Paul could worship in spite of being imprisoned because he was in the midst of the power of Holy Spirit of God. This is not casual phraseology. It is deliberate and specific. Only a Christian who is in obedience to God can be in the midst of His power. It is that obedience that forms itself around us as a shield. Not out of our own righteousness but out of the righteousness of Christ. It is our emulation of His example that brings Joy. This may sound contrary to the knowledge of the Suffering of Jesus in His obedience to the Father, but it is not. You see we are told in Scripture that Christ did not obey because of current Joy but because of the Joy to come. (Hebrews 12:2)

 

That is not to say that the Joy of Christians is all future in nature. Surely our Joy will be complete when we see the Father face to face, but the point of Jesus’ life was to give us fullness of Joy. (John 15:11) Yet this full Joy is not without prerequisites. The preceding verses of John 15 tell us that we must abide in Him and keep His commandments. Obedience is required. Bu t obedience does not in and of itself produce Joy. Joy is the fruit of being in obedience in the same way that Love is part of the new nature. When we are in obedience we know that there is nothing to fear.

 

You may be thinking that if you were in Paul’s sandals you might have felt fear when the guards brought out the whip. And that might be true, but you are missing the point. Knowing that we are in the will of God and in compliance with His will does not remove the pain of physical hurt or emotional trauma, but it does give complete reassurance that regardless of the circumstances my Abba Father is in control. That is where the Joy in obedience stems from. Men may revile me and seek to hurt me, but it will never be beyond what my Father has predetermined to allow in my life.

 

Allow me to close with the chorus of the song I mentioned earlier. (You can see the rest of the lyrics on the Music and Lyrics tab, look for What Kind of Joy is This?)

 

What Kind of Joy is this?

That counts it a blessing to suffer

What Kind of Joy is this?

That gives the prisoner his song

What kind of Joy can stare death in the face

And see it as sweet victory?

O This is the Joy of a soul that is forgiven and free

 

What kind of joy is this?

The Father has promised his children

What kind of joy is this?

That Jesus has come to reveal

What kind of joy could give hope in this world

To someone just like you and me?

This is the joy of a soul that’s forgiven and free

I’ve found this joy for my soul is forgiven and free

 

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3 Comments

Filed under Fruit of the Spirit

3 responses to “The Fruit of the Spirit: Joy

  1. Always encouraging Pete!
    Can’t wait for the next installment: which I assume will be Peace 😉

  2. Thank you! And, yes, it will be peace!

  3. Victoria Davis

    I happened to come across this blog by chance. I was searching for something about fruit of the Spirit for my children’s church class. I am a big fan of Steven Curtis Chapman’s songs and the word’s to that song really caught my eye. Reading your say on the subject of Joy was a real refreshing bit of air. I was really touched by that bit of truth. There is a song that we have sung in our church that says,”This joy that I have, the world didn’t give it to me”. I was just talking with my hubby today about how the joy that we have as Christians come from the inside; that spring of living waters so to speak. Then, coming across your blog was just a reminder of what I should continue to do on my journey. Thank God for the wonderful examples that we have in the Bible. That “great cloud of witnesses”. I only hope and pray that my life will speak the same words that theirs did.

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