Joy is one of many things that only come from God. It is the fruit of God’s Holy Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23). That means it can only find true expression in those who have received Jesus as their Lord and Saviour and have been gifted with His Spirit.
In effect, joy is one thing that many claim they have but do not have. This is because it is only God that makes us joyful. (Ezra 6:22).
Since joy only comes from God, there are many counterfeits. Be suspicious of anything that gives you joy outside of Christ. There is no real joy in anything you do without the Holy Spirit. There is no joy in anything you cannot do in the presence of God.
Counterfeit joy includes the so-called joy that comes from buying and selling. It includes the “joy” that comes from possessions, the joy that comes from achievements, and the “joy” that comes from eating and drinking. “But the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 14:17).
When we eat and drink, we are never full. Soon, we have to eat and drink again and again. But with joy in the Holy Spirit, we can be full and fulfilled.
Accordingly, Jesus told a Samaritan woman by the well of Jacob: “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” (John 4:13-14).
That water that flows from the city of God is the Holy Spirit. It is water drawn from the wells of salvation. (Isaiah 12:3).
What is the point of joy that does not last? What is the point of happiness that only happens occasionally? What is the point of the fleeting joy that is here today but gone tomorrow? What is the point of joy that is never full and always incomplete?
But the joy of the Lord is full and fulfilling. It is immune to the vagaries of life. It is not subject to situations and circumstances. It remains and abides forever. It ensures that even when we are sorrowful, nevertheless, we are always rejoicing. (2 Corinthians 6:10). It guarantees that we are exceedingly joyful even in all our tribulations. (2 Corinthians 7:4).
Jesus says: “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).
The bleaker things are in the world: the snugger we feel in Christ. The darker the night: the brighter the day. The darker the berry: the sweeter the juice. Whatever happens, the joy of the Lord remains.
Many Christians who have the joy of the Lord do not even know they have it. This is because if we have it, we need to express it. But many have it and do not realise it.
Joy of the Lord
God desires that we have His joy. He wants us to: “rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory. (1 Peter 1:9). He gave us His commandments because He does not want sin to impede our joyfulness.
Jesus says: “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:11-12).
God, Himself, is our joy. Therefore, all our joy must be in Him and from Him. Nine times in the scriptures we are told to rejoice in the Lord. We are told to rejoice in the salvation of God, to rejoice in hope of the glory of God, and to rejoice because our names are written in heaven.
Accordingly, Paul says: “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I will say, rejoice!”(Philippians 4:4).
When barren Hannah travailed in prayer and finally gave birth to a son, she did not rejoice in the child. She said: ‘My heart rejoices in the LORD; my horn is exalted in the LORD. I smile at my enemies because I rejoice in Your salvation.” (1 Samuel 2:1).
The same thing happened with Mary when she was told by the angel that she would have a child by the Holy Spirit. She said: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.” (Luke 1:46-47).
The joy of the Lord is the satisfaction and sense of well-being that we get when we are secure in the love of God. That makes it more of a lifestyle than an emotion. Our emotions are controlled by our flesh. But joy comes from the Holy Spirit.
It comes from having a loving and cordial relationship with God. It comes from knowing that all things work together for our good. (Romans 8:38). It comes from knowing that it is God who works in us both to will and to do for His good pleasure. (Philippians 2:13). It comes from knowing we are accepted in God’s beloved. (Ephesians 1:6).
Nobody else gives what God gives and God is the only person who gives anything that is valuable.
Man gives perishable goods. If a man is pleased with you today, he can be displeased with you tomorrow. If he gives you something today, he can ask for it back tomorrow. In any case, whatever he gives will soon run out or expire.
But God’s favour everlasting: “His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5).
God is exciting, exuberant, and fulfilling. There is no good thing outside of the Lord. (Psalm 15:2). Therefore, our fullness of joy is realised from fellowshipping with God the Father and Jesus the Son.
God is someone to be enjoyed by men. The whole point of our privileged personal relationship with God is to have everlasting pleasure with Him. Jesus reveals that at the resurrection: “All our ecstasies and intimacies then will be with God.” (Matthew 22:30).
Our joy in Him comes from the fact that believers dwell in God and God dwells in us. (John 14:20). God has put gladness in our hearts: “more than in the season that their grain and wine increased.” (Psalm 4:7).
By the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, we are now seated: “together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:6). Moreover, “In (God’s) presence is fullness of joy; at (His) right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11).
“Therefore, we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).