Galatians 5:22-23 says,
“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!”
The passage talks about something called fruit, which is produced by the Holy Spirit. This fruit is actually a list of godly qualities and virtues. We need this fruit to successfully live the Christian life, but the problem is we are not capable of producing it ourselves. There are no formulas — no man-made rules — no procedures that we can follow to produce it. That’s what the passage means when it says there is no law against such things.
In this blog I want to focus on the second fruit which is joy. Why the second fruit? Why joy? Well it seems to me that there is a general lack of joy today. People are generally anxious. They are uncertain about the times we live in and are preoccupied with doom. I run into these people all the time, so I think we need stop for a moment and learn how to put more joy into our lives.
So let’s begin by defining joy. What exactly is it? Joy is a condition that is produced when we believe God is in CONTROL, and He is working EVERYTHING out for good. Joy is a strong sense of well being, but it is not produced by circumstances or situations of life. Joy produced by God, as He works through our circumstances.
For example, let’s say we are dealing with a very difficult and disagreeable person. If we ask the Holy Spirit to give us the fruit of joy for that situation, He will do that. As a result we immediately feel less threatened — less bothered — less overwhelmed. And many times the other person becomes less antagonistic and disagreeable.
Now this kind of joy is different than ordinary, everyday happiness. Ordinary, everyday happiness is short lived, whereas the joy produced by the Lord is not. Ordinary happiness is based on what happens at the moment — current circumstances. For example we buy a new car, and that makes us happy. But if circumstances change, happiness can change. For example we get into an accident with our new car and it gets totaled. So every day, ordinary happiness is an up and down system at best.
Romans 14:17 says, “For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink (that’s a description of daily life), but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
Notice the words “goodness,” “peace,” and “joy,”. These words define the kind of life God wants us to live. He wants us to live a good life, a peaceful life and a joyful life, and He gives us the Holy Spirit to help us do that do that.
You know when God’s children lose their joy, it makes God look bad. Cranky Christians are bad witnesses. They often look like they’ve just been baptized in vinegar. They seldom smile, they are always serious, and they focus on the dark side. That makes God look bad.
I don’t know if that’s where you are today. Maybe you are feel like you’ve lost your spark. Maybe you feel you are not where you used to be. Maybe you feel like God is far away from you. Maybe everything seems routine and humdrum. Maybe you feel hopeless. We need joy, but we are unable to achieve it.
The good news is God tells us how to recover our joy in the Scriptures. We are going to look at four ways God tells us how to do that. So let’s take a look at the first one.
The first step in recovering our joy is ADMIT WE HAVE LOST IT.
As obvious as that may sound, that is the proper starting place. We can’t recover something until we know we lost it. There is a simple way to find out. We can look at our past and ask three questions. First question — when was the last time I experienced true joy in the Lord? Second question — what were the circumstances? Third question — what happened that made me lose it?
Now, let me caution you, don’t overlook this step. I understand we may have to so some digging. It may be difficult, but this is where we have to start. We have to know what we’ve lost. Once we know it, we can ask God to help us get it back.
David did this in Psalms 51:12. “Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.”
David didn’t ask God to restore his salvation, because he hadn’t lost it. Instead he asked for what he called the joy of salvation. This joy is the pinnacle of joy — it’s the ultimate joy. It’s activated by understanding the prospect of eternity future. In eternity future we will be with God forever — in a perfect place — doing perfect things — perfectly. We will never have a bad day or a bad thought. There will be no more pain and no more tears. We will be doing fascinating stuff with God forever. Our lives will be in a state of constant exhilaration and thrill. That’s called the joy of salvation, and that’s the kind of joy David wanted back. But he didn’t want to wait to get to heaven to get it. He wanted it right then, so he asked God to give it to him.
Notice the expression, “Make me willing to obey you”. This describes a key principle for achieving joy. IT’S BEING OBEDIENT TO GOD.
That leads to the second step for recovering our joy. Unfortunately, we are out of time and will have to talk about that next time. Until then, have a great week …