The second of the fruits of the spirit is Joy. But, what is joy? In Christian circles, we often hear the word “Joy” thrown around a lot. But, what is it? How do you define joy? How similar are joy and happiness? Let’s explore.
What is Joy?
Joy is defined as “a feeling of great pleasure and happiness.”
What is Happiness?
Happiness is defined as “the quality or state of being happy” or “good fortune; pleasure; contentment; joy.”
When you look at these definitions, there really isn’t much difference between them. Both definitions use the other word to define them.
When I look to the Bible, I find that joy goes so much deeper than we often see in this world. I can be happy to win the lottery or happy to receive flowers on my birthday. However, I can also be happy or filled with joy when my life is falling apart or I am facing some great difficulty because of the gift of the Holy Spirit and because of a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Fruits of the Spirit
In Galatians 5:22, joy is listed as one of the fruits of the spirit.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control…”
The fruits of the spirit are a physical manifestation of our life when it is transformed by the saving blood of Jesus. When we are saved, Jesus gives us the Holy Spirit to help us. The more we let the Holy Spirit take control of our lives, the more the fruits of the spirit will manifest themselves in our lives.
When the Bible talks about the fruits of the spirit, what exactly does that mean? When I think about it, I think of what Jesus said in Matthew 7:18,
“A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit.”
For example, if you have an apple tree in your yard that produces big, beautiful apples every year, it is doing what it is supposed to do. It is bearing good fruit. If however, your apple tree hasn’t produced any apples for years, it isn’t doing what it is designed to do.
In the same way, when we let the Holy Spirit have his way with us, the fruits of the spirit, including joy, will become more evident in our lives and in deeper ways. It won’t matter what difficulties you may be facing. The Joy of the Lord, and the other fruits of the spirit, will fill you to overflowing. It will be your strength
Can I be happy in the midst of suffering?
I believe that the answer to that is clearly “Yes.” You can look throughout the Bible and see evidence of this throughout.
One example is in 1Thessalonians 3:6-9 NLT when Paul is longing to see the Thessalonians,
“But now Timothy has just returned, bringing us good news about your faith and love. he reports that you always remember our visit with joy and that you want to see us as much as we want to see you. So we have been greatly encouraged in the midst of our troubles and suffering, dear brothers and sisters, because you have remained strong in your faith. It gives us new life to know that you are standing firm in the Lord. How we thank God for you! Because of you we have great joy as we enter God’s presence.”
Psalm 94:18-19 says,
“When I said, ‘My foot is slipping,’ your unfailing love, Lord, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.”
In both of these examples, there are references to trouble, suffering, anxiety. But at the same time, there is the joy that God gives us if we press into him.
Joy isn’t dependent on Circumstances
I know that many times in my life when I’ve been going through some difficulty, it was remembering that God loves me, remembering that his promises are true, and remembering that he has always been right there by my side that pulled me through. When I would think about those things, it puts a smile on my face and fills me with such joy that there isn’t room to contain it no matter what else is going on around me.
It’s my choice what I choose to focus on. If I choose to focus on my problems, I will be miserable. If I choose to focus on my blessings instead, the joy and peace of the Lord can manifest themselves in my live no matter what is going on. Another way I heard it put once was to look at your problems through the filter of God’s love.
So, what is joy? It is one of the fruits of the Spirit and I believe that it is much more than just a feeling of happiness but can transform your life if you press in deeper to God and let him fill you with the Holy Spirit. Make a choice to focus on your blessings and not your problems and remember that God loves you and wants you to experience his joy.