“You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand” Psalm 16:11 (see also118:24).
Joy is part of the inheritance of the Christian, the evidence of the work of God’s Spirit in his life. Nehemiah said that “the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). This joy is part of the abundant life that Jesus came to give us.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” John 10:10.
Jesus came to give us a new life that was both eternal (in duration) and abundant (in expression). Satan, however, is a thief of that abundant life. He tries to steal our joy through two snares: legalism (Gal.4:15; 5:1) or license (Gal.6:7-8). But true joy comes from the righteous freedom we have in God’s Spirit.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” Romans 15:13.
Joy and Sorrow
“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones” Proverbs 17:22.
Joy has a healing effect. Laughter and gladness have been proven by doctors to help speed natural healing and also to bring healing to the heart. This does not mean, however, that we are to try and cheer people who are grieving. Romans 12:15 tells us to “rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn” (see also 1 Cor.12:26). Although joy is the hallmark of the Christian life, grieving also plays a part.
“There is a time for everything …a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance” Ecclesiastes 3:1,4.
Christian joy is not a surface joy. It is not a mask that we put on for others. It is not just froth and bubble, but a deep joy that comes from God’s Spirit. But this joy often has a backdrop of repentance and weeping (James 4:8). Even the apostle Paul said that he was “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” (2 Cor.6:10). God’s desire is to turn our sorrow into rejoicing.
“Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him” Psa.126,5-6 (read whole Psalm; see also 30:5).
Release of Joy
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Philippians 4:4 (see also Romans 12:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:16).
The Christian has every reason to rejoice. We rejoice because God is on the Throne (1 Chron.16:31), because we have peace with God (Rom.5:1-2,11), because we have a share in Christ’s inheritance (Col.1:11-12), because our names are written in heaven (Luke 10:20), because we have been released from Satan’s bondage (Acts 8:5-8) and because we have received such a great salvation (Psalm 13:5; 105:43; Isa.51:3,11; 55:12). But most of all, we rejoice not just for what God has done, but in God Himself (Luke 1:47; Habakkuk 3:17-18).
“Those living far away fear your wonders; where morning dawns and evening fades you call forth songs of joy.” Psalm 65:8 (see also 46:4; 47:1,5; 66:1-2; 95:1-2).
Joy is a Fruit
“But the fruit of the Spirit is…joy…” Gal.5:22.
Joy is one of the fruit of the Spirit. This means it is not something that you try to manufacture, but something that comes out of the life of the Spirit. As long as we are walking in the Spirit, one of the effects in our lives will be joy.
“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” Romans 14:17.
The Oil of Joy
“You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy” Hebrews 1:9.
Joy was part of the anointing on Jesus, and is also the anointing that God pours on the believer.
“…to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair…” Isaiah 61:3 (see also Psalm 104:15).
The Secret to Joy
“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” John 15:11.
The verse before tells us what Jesus told His disciples in order that they may experience true joy: “If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love…” Obedience is the key to joy! Joy is the experience of every person when they first obey God by receiving Christ (1 Thessalonians 1:6). But many Christians wonder where that first joy goes. In fact, it didn’t go anywhere. What is needed is a continuing walk of obedience. You can’t live off the joy of old obedience; it is a daily walk with the Lord and a daily experience of joy.
“…I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them” John 17:13.
God has joy (Zephaniah 3:17). Jesus said that when we obey His commands – not out of duty, but because we love Him – then not only will our joy be complete, but His joy will also fill us. We get double joy – our joy in obeying the Lord and His joy on top of that!
“Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven” Luke 6:22-23 (see also James 1:2).
Because our joy comes from the Holy Spirit and not from the circumstances, Christians have a joy which is unconquerable.
“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy” 1 Peter 1:8 (see also Jude 24).