But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
The fruit of the Spirit is love, Jesus said the world would recognize us as His by our love for one another (John 13:35). Love is described in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a so we are looking there for how it is we ought to be.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never ends.
Today, I want to look at joy. Joy doesn’t mean we walk around with giant smiles on our faces all the time, untouched by the pain and suffering around us. The passage in 1 Corinthians 13 says that there are some things we do not rejoice in; we do not rejoice at wrongdoing. The word for wrongdoing is adikia. It is defined as injustice, iniquity, and moral wrongs. We are to rejoice with the truth. It is not an excuse to wallow in self-pity over the wrongs committed against us or to take offense at the apparent injustices against us. Since we know the truth of who we are in Christ and who God is to us our pride cannot be, we can’t be offended by the lies as if we didn’t belong to Christ. It refers to wrongs done against God, injustice in the world, the hurting of people around you. We rejoice at the truth. If we know the truth, we have nothing to be offended about personally. We are children of God, chosen, accepted, co-heirs with Christ and eternally His.
Remember that both this description of love and the fruit of the Spirit are descriptions of Jesus and that means that Jesus had joy. He is described differently in Isaiah 53:3.
He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Jesus was a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief. Some people use this description as an excuse to adopt a melancholy face or even a grumpy demeanor. But that is not what this verse is saying about Jesus. It says He suffered, He knew grief. Go onto the next verses Isaiah 53:4-6
Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
He took on our suffering, pain, sorrow, and grief. These verses are talking about the Messiah, Jesus taking on our sin and going through horrendous suffering for our sake, being whipped and beaten to bring us forgiveness and being killed to bring us peace with God. It is describing the Crucifixion. Jesus suffered the Crucifixion, but even then He chose joy through the sorrow. You see He knew what was ahead of Him but more than that He knew what was ahead of us. He was doing what He must to bring us to peace with God, to give us the chance to choose eternity with Him. He also knew that in His suffering and ours there would be people watching, both from Heaven and on earth. He gave us an example of willing and joyful obedience. Hebrews 12:1-3 says it like this,
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.3 Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.
We can rejoice because Jesus took our grief, shame, and sin onto Himself to give us forgiveness, healing, and joy. Like Jesus we are asked to rejoice in suffering, but like Jesus we can because we know where our hope is, we know the future, and we know that the suffering will be good for us and make us come out being more like our Lord. We rejoice because we know our past could not earn us the future given to us by God. Romans 5:1-11 in The Living Bible reads,
So now, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith in his promises, we can have real peace with him because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. 2 For because of our faith, he has brought us into this place of highest privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to actually becoming all that God has had in mind for us to be.
3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us—they help us learn to be patient. 4 And patience develops strength of character in us and helps us trust God more each time we use it until finally our hope and faith are strong and steady. 5 Then, when that happens, we are able to hold our heads high no matter what happens and know that all is well, for we know how dearly God loves us, and we feel this warm love everywhere within us because God has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
6 When we were utterly helpless, with no way of escape, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners who had no use for him. 7 Even if we were good, we really wouldn’t expect anyone to die for us, though, of course, that might be barely possible. 8 But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. 9 And since by his blood he did all this for us as sinners, how much more will he do for us now that he has declared us not guilty? Now he will save us from all of God’s wrath to come. 10 And since, when we were his enemies, we were brought back to God by the death of his Son, what blessings he must have for us now that we are his friends and he is living within us! 11 Now we rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God—all because of what our Lord Jesus Christ has done in dying for our sins—making us friends of God.
When Paul wrote to the Philippians and advised them on how to be aligned with Christ, he said,
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
How do you stop worrying? How do you stop acting crazy and foolish? Let me paraphrase these Philippians 4:4-7.
Celebrate, I’ll say it again, be joyful! Don’t freak out, The Lord is here, don’t be anxious instead, pray about everything both by asking the Lord and thanking Him; tell God what you need and want. That is how this profound peace that no one will be able to understand will be yours protecting you emotionally and logically against unnecessary worry and sorrow.
Joy is not an absence of emotion. Jesus was not stoic. Stoicism is not joy it is more like impassiveness. Jesus is anything but impassive. Jesus showed every emotion without sinning. It is okay to weep, cry, and lament. Jesus wept (Luke 19:41, John 11:35). We are commanded to weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15). Jesus got angry more than once. Twice He went to the Temple in Jerusalem and showed His anger, He even crafted his own whip so that He could more clearly show His wrath (Matthew 21-12-13, John 2:13-17). We can be angry, but we must do so without the easy slide into sin as we use self-pity, pride, and hate as excuses for anger. Jesus was angry at the degradation of the Temple, at the offense these religious leaders were doing to His Father by making religion a business. He didn’t get angry when Judas betrayed Him. He didn’t get angry when Peter and every one of His followers except for John and a handful of women abandoned Him; He didn’t get angry when people accused Him of working in league with Satan. He knew the truth. He loved. He rejoiced in the truth of who He is. Emotions are not a sin.
Joy is expressing the heart, it is celebrating, being thankful and glad regardless of the events because we have faith in God. Our joy is not based on earthly circumstances, our joy is a gift from God and untouchable because it is irrevocable. 2 Corinthians 6:3-10 is a powerful reminder that we do not live in our circumstances, we live in Christ as a testimony to Him.
We put no obstacle in anyone's way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, 4 but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, 5 beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; 6 by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; 7 by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; 8 through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; 9 as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.
Our Joy is based on God. We can find temporary happiness in earthly things but real joy is eternal and it is found in the Lord. When we understand just how great and good and lovely God is, we can be joyful. Psalm 28:6-8 reads,
Blessed be the Lord!
For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy.
7 The Lord is my strength and my shield;
in him my heart trusts, and I am helped;
my heart exults,
and with my song I give thanks to him.
8 The Lord is the strength of his people;
he is the saving refuge of his anointed.
We know that our sorrow is temporary but Joy is eternal. This life is like a moment, one night and then the everlasting forever of New Jerusalem. Psalm 30:4-5 says,
Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints,
and give thanks to his holy name.
5 For his anger is but for a moment,
and his favor is for a lifetime.
Weeping may tarry for the night,
but joy comes with the morning.
If you are not joyful, maybe you are looking for happiness in the wrong places, maybe your heart is somewhere other than Heaven? If what we care for the kingdom of Heaven then our hearts will be there instead of in our jobs, children, social media account, or earthly success (Matthew 6:19-21). If our joy depends on social media likes, then it will fluctuate with the likes we get, and someone else will always get more likes than we do; someone will always give us a thumbs down and make us unhappy, envious, bitter, or angry. Children and families will disappoint. We will always need more money, respect, and success to make us happy if our happiness is dependent on those things. But that is not true when our joy comes from the Lord.
If we rejoice in the Lord and do what is right , He gives us the desires of our hearts (Psalm 37:3-4). To rejoice in the Lord, we must know Him. Knowing Him and delighting in Him requires us to read the word, spend time with God and on His Word and reflect on Him. Psalm 1:2-3 reads,
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
3 He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
That means that when we delight in God, when we mediate on His word nothing can move us, nothing can “make us” feel or do anything other than what we determine to feel and do.
Like all the traits we have studied, joy must be expressed if it is to be proven, seen by the world as a testimony to Christ. It is not merely a feeling, it must be demonstrated. In all these verses we have examined today, joy is a seeable illustration of our relationship with God. It is fruit of who God is in us.
Cherished, you have reason to rejoice, joy not expressed is merely a happy feeling. Remember in Scripture Paul said, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” To rejoice is to praise God. So Believer, praise the Lord today and always, I’ll sat it again, rejoice! I will leave you with this passage to remind you that rejoicing is acted out and moreover, it is the will of God. To choose not to live out the joy He gives you is to stifle Him and His expression in your life. 1 Thessalonians 5:15-24 says,
See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.
23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.