The Fruit of the Spirit is...
Joy. That ever-familiar word that the dictionary describes as, “A feeling of great pleasure and happiness.”
Given that definition, I think it would be safe to say that joy is brought about by doing things that make us happy and give us pleasure. The only problem is, the world has turned our pleasure seeking and happiness into a quest for the next big adventure, the next great food item, or other delightful activities. And while none of these things in itself are wrong, our joy shouldn’t be fulfilled through these things. Riches, wealth, worldly goods, they shouldn’t be used to fill our longing of joy. Yes, they can be used to bring us joy, but the joy it brings is not true joy. Your children, spouse, food, fun; we can’t rely on these things to bring us joy. Because, when children disobey, or spouses don’t act in the way we think they should, when the food is gone and the fun is over…your joy is gone with it, evaporated. That’s one way you can tell if you have true joy living inside of you.
Are you only happy when you’re doing one of those things listed above? Does your joy end when the adventure does?
Then it might be time we take a look at true joy, how it can be defined, and how we can readily have that available in our lives.
Scriptures that talk about joy:
Hebrews 12:2 “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."
James 1:2-3 “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.”
First Peter 1:8-9 “Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
John 16:22 “So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.”
1 Thessalonians 2:19-20 “For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy.”
Psalm 28:7 “The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.”
So what are some ways that true joy can be harvested in our lives?
I’m a fan of that acrostic above, because it’s so true. True joy is brought about when we’re putting Jesus first, others second and ourselves last.
So what are some ways that we can obtain true joy?
1. Jesus First: Put Him first by making Him a part of your morning
We all know that Jesus is with us every moment of every day. But how many times do we actually acknowledge that? What’s the first thing you do in the morning? Wouldn’t it be great if we woke up, grabbed our Bible, and dove into the Word of God right away? Wouldn’t it be amazing if the first thing on our mind was Jesus, and other heavenly thoughts? Try something this week. If you aren’t already in the habit of having your Bible and prayer time first thing in the morning, try doing it for a little while. When we dwell on Jesus right away, our little troubles don’t seem so big anymore, our big tasks don’t seem quite as daunting, and we’re given an extra strength and boost that helps us through the day. True joy is brought about when we put Him first.
2. Others Second: Put others second by putting them before yourself
This one might be the hardest one of all for many of us. If only it could be as easy as grabbing your Bible and setting some time aside to read it. Putting others before ourselves takes time, practice, and a lot of prayer. We’re in a society that teaches us to put ourselves first, to take care of our own needs before assisting others. And while some of that might hold a grain of truth, we really should be thinking about others first and foremost. What are some ways we can do this? It might be as simple as giving up that last slice of cake, or letting someone have the more comfortable chair in the living room. It might be something harder, like stopping a certain habit because you know it gets on someone else’s nerves. It could be demonstrated by washing the dishes after supper, or putting a load of laundry on even though it isn’t your responsibility. Putting others first also comes through acts of serving, like the couple I listed above. Putting others first is having a heart of compassion. When someone is hurting, try to be the first one there to see how you can help them. Don’t we all feel better when we’re helping others? True joy is brought about when we put others before ourselves.
3. Yourself Last: Think of yourself last in everything
If we’re following these guidelines above, then we will be putting ourselves last! If we’re making a conscience effort to put Jesus first, others second and ourselves last, true joy will be evoked.
So take some time this week and reflect upon JOY (Jesus first, Others second, Yourself last.)
With humble hearts, let’s all strive to become more like Christ and let’s start by taking these things to heart.
Let's all be joyful, willing, servants of our King.