Consider it all joy. [James 1:2]
We are exploring significant words of The Christian Faith in our series ‘Say The Word.’
We come today to the word joy. Webster’s College Dictionary defines joy (noun) as a very glad feeling; happiness; great pleasure; delight; anything causing such a feeling, or the expression or showing of such feeling. As a verb, joy is to be full of joy, to rejoice, to make joyful, or to enjoy.
For the Christian, joy is the outward expression of almost unreasonable excitement or intense jubilation. We have joy because of God’s grace. It is not simply an emotion, but a quality, grounded in God. Joy characterizes the Christian’s life on earth and anticipates the joy of being with Christ forever in the Kingdom of Heaven. We can have joy in this world. But true joy will come with being in the presence of God.
Joy is an exuberance about life, the natural reaction to the work of God, and one of the Fruits of The Spirit (Note 1). The Spirit’s production of joy manifests itself in many ways, including the joy of deliverance, the joy of salvation, the joy of spiritual formation, and the joy of God’s presence.
Paul describes as intense joy the progress in the faith by members of the body of Christ, as, paradoxically, the outcome of suffering and even sorrow for Christ’s sake, and as a gift of the Holy Spirit. Moreover, joy derives from love, God’s and ours. Paul also reminds us that it is a gift which may be interrupted by sin. As a result, every believer is called upon to share in the joy of Christ through a daily walk with Him.
In the history of God’s people, joy is expressed in terms of noisy, tumultuous excitement at festivals, sacrifices and enthronements. Spontaneous joy is a prevailing feature of the the Book of Psalms. The New Testament recounts joy in connection with the proclamation of the good news of the kingdom, including the Savior’s birth, His triumphal entry, and the resurrection. In John, it is Jesus himself who communicates this joy as the result of a deep fellowship between the church and himself. Joy marks the life of the early church. It accompanies the gift of the Holy Spirit to the disciples, the miracles performed in the name of Christ, and the conversion of the Gentiles.
Joy is both a hallmark and a barometer of our holy obedience. Joy is a choice. We choose whether to value God’s presence, promises, and work in our lives. When we yield to the Spirit, He opens our eyes to God’s grace around us and fills us with joy. True intense joy is not to be found in a fallen world. It is only in fellowship with God that our joy is made complete.
Finally, joy is the serious business of Heaven (C.S. Lewis). Don’t believe us? Read the Book of Revelation.
From the #saytheword series.
Note 1: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23