What comes to mind when you think of joy? Many would associate it with happiness. Although related, there are some differences between the two according to what the Bible says about joy as a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Spiritual joy is necessary as a godly influence in the culture, as well as having persistence to endure the difficult times in which Christians are now living. The source of real joy is God alone. “In God’s presence is fullness of joy. In His right hand are pleasures forever (Psalm 16:11).” In these very trying times the joy of the Lord must be our strength.
Since spiritual joy is not something that can be worked up, what are the motivations for it? One way is by “fixing our eyes on Jesus…who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:2-3).
Second, rejoice in your salvation. “Rejoice that your name is written in heaven(Luke 10:20).” Have joy for the future that God has prepared for you in His presence for all eternity.
The most difficult reason is that it comes out of adversity, which is also shared in Luke. “Blessed are you when people hate you, and ostracize you, and cast insults at you, and spurn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. Be glad in that day, and leap for joy, for your reward is great in heaven… (Luke 6:22-23)” Christians are being insulted and spurned by the culture, and it says to “leap for joy?” Why? Because there will be a great reward in heaven. “Consider it all joy when you encounter various trials. James 1:2-3)” Why would anyone want to do that? Testing produces endurance, and endurance will result in receiving the crown of life promised by God (James 1:12). 1 Peter 4:12-13 adds to this by stating that when severe testing comes “keep on rejoicing” so that when Jesus reveals His glory you may rejoice with exaltation. So the three reasons for having joy in adversity are getting rewarded in heaven, receiving the crown of life, and seeing God’s glory.
It is easy to have joy when life is going well, but when things are hard, it takes a special empowerment of the Holy Spirit. This kind of joy will not only develop endurance, but also will, hopefully, cause others to take notice and draw them towards Christ.
In closing, “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.”
What might you be going through right now that requires endurance by focusing on the joy of the Lord?