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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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The Joyous Christian

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control . . . (Galatians 5:22-23 ESV)

Paul mentions love first in the verse above. Next he mentions joy. I believe joy, as in the case of the first attribute and those that follow it, are characteristics that only a true Christian knows how to experience. I want to discuss “joy” with you today.

There certainly are many people who call themselves Christians who do not seem to be very joyful. They may seem depressed. They are grumpy and hard to get along with. Circumstances have robbed them of their joy. They have a very low and unhealthy view of God, themselves and this world.

Paul tells us, however, that joy is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Joy should be one of the primary characteristics of a Christian. But, does a Christian always have to be joyous? Because of sin, joy often seems to evaporate from our lives. We are often subjected to worrying about our jobs or lack thereof. We worry about money and bills. We worry about the members of our family and close friends. We worry about health problems and our marriages and what will happen to our children.

Paul brought good news to the Galatians. He taught about the God of love. He told them about a God who loves you by His merciful grace and welcomes you with open arms. If you believe in Him, acknowledge Him as God, and believe in Jesus Christ as your Savior, Paul taught that you can have a personal relationship with God. Paul taught that you should not to be anxious about anything. Despite all earthly circumstances, you are a child of God.

Many religious people equate joy with happiness. These should not be confused because they are two different things. Happiness is the feeling created by what happens to us. Happiness is not something you can feel all the time because circumstances change. You may be happy when you leave home to go to work, but you may not feel happy when you return home after work. True joy has to do with our covenant relationship with God. This joy is like a thermometer of that relationship. Joy does not depend on circumstances. It does not depend on good works or possessions.

The apostle John writes, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:11 ESV) Jesus is speaking about the relationship of love between God and the Christian. We who once did not belong to the Father now belong to Him. There are still lots of things still wrong with us, but we have joy because of our relationship with God. Jesus Christ understood that there is no true joy without God.

Christians know that no matter the circumstances, nothing can separate us from the love of God. This is why we have eternal joy. Jesus said, “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:11-12 ESV)

Let us remember that there is even joy in suffering because suffering produces character and steadfastness. When you believe in the Lord Jesus, then no one can take away your joy no matter what happens. Consider 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (ESV)

The Holy Spirit renews us every day. How great is that? Forget what you have or don’t have here on this earth. Don’t look at the things you can see. Look at what the Holy Spirit is giving you and find your joy in the eternal pleasures of knowing God and being one of His family. If God does nothing else for you in your lifetime, other than save you from your sins in order that you may spend eternity in His household, is that not reason enough to praise Him and to be full of Joy?

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