“22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
In this installment of the Fruit of the Spirit study, we look at JOY. Joy is listed second, next to Love in this list of characteristics which are attributed to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. What I would like to ask you is, as you read this, do you have joy in your heart? If not, do you know why? If not, would you be willing to find out why?
What is Joy?
Proverbs 12:20 ESV says this:
“Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, but those who plan peace have joy.”
Two words there jump out at me: Peace and Joy. More on peace later. According to Proverbs, joy is a product of the intentional approach to peace. I’ve spoken with many people who say they want peace….World Peace. But there seems to be a gap between where we want to be and where we are in terms of peace. So is this a ‘chicken or the egg’ argument? How can we have joy if there is no peace? How can we have peace?
“Why do so many Christians seem void of joy?”
If peace is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, and joy comes to those who plan peace, it makes sense that joy is also a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Why do so many Christians seem void of joy? I have to ask another question…what are your goals for the universe? You may be thinking that I’ve gone off the deep end now, but I think it’s worth asking. A better way to put it, are your goals for the universe in line with God’s goals for the universe? Do you place your hopes in a sports franchise? A piece of legislation? What about self accomplishment? Or how about your kids’ accomplishments?
I think we have to ask ourselves what are God’s goals for this place we call home? His goals will come to fruition. If our goals aren’t His, we’re looking at eternal disappointment. If we’re working against His goals, we are an enemy of God. How can we find peace in that? We Can’t! So how do we reconcile our lack of joy with our claim to be filled with the Holy Spirit? I’ve long said that our proof to those around us that we have the Holy Spirit living in us, is just as Galatians 5 says. Those fruit are the proof. Our claim needs the support of evidence. I hope that we can look in the mirror and ask, “Does the Holy Spirit really live in me? Or am I just saying that it does?”
If we’re working against His goals, we are an enemy of God. How can we find peace in that?
I pray that our goals will begin to line up with the Father’s so that we may find the peace that produces joy. And that we seek out those plans intentionally. God has given us free will to pursue joy, if we’d just find her tracks and follow her. I think we have to start with a genuine request that God fill us with His Spirit, and that He would prune the branches so that we may bear good fruit.
“Why then did God give us free will? Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having.”
– C.S. Lewis