Recently God has been speaking to me about Joy. It has happened in several different ways, and caused me to REALLY think about joy.
What is JOY, anyway?
My trusty Webster’s dictionary defines joy as:
- A feeling or state of great delight or happiness, as caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying
- A source or cause of keen pleasure or delight
Okay, those things are true, although they seem like things based on the external circumstance, rather than something internal. So, what is Godly Joy, the kind that isn’t changed by our external circumstance?
I like what the Unger’s Bible Dictionary says about joy:
- Usually a form of the Hebrew word which means to leap or spin around with pleasure.
- A delight of the mind arising from the consideration of a present, or assured possession of a future good.
- There is a moral joy, which is a self-approbation, or that which arises from the performance of any good actions; this kind of is called peace
- Spiritual Joy – “Fruit of the Spirit”; “the rejoicing of hope”
The object of this type of JOY is God Himself:
- His Promises
- The Gospel
- It is Permanent
- It is Inexpressible
Paul wrote to the Church at Philippi about joy. In Phil. 1:4-5 he says: “…I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel…” Paul wrote this when he was in jail, in chains. His joy wasn’t compromised by his external circumstances. Even in his time of need while jailed, he was teaching and praying for others. In verse 27 he says “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ…” Hmmm, that’s pretty powerful. Whatever happens. Conduct yourselves. In a manner worthy.
In chapter 2 Paul continues by saying “If you have any encouragement from being united with
Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.”
Okay. It seems according to Paul that to have joy, we need to conduct ourselves as Christ did. After all, isn’t our purpose on earth to be Christ Bearers? Aren’t we to reflect His character and be a living example of our Lord? Like minded. Having the same love. Being one in spirit and purpose.
When I’m conducting myself in a manner worthy; when I am having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose, there is a JOY that overflows from my spirit. I’m united in mind, soul and purpose with my Savior.
Spiritual joy is permanent. Just like Paul, my joy is not based on outward circumstances, but rather on an inward truth that cannot be shaken. Does this mean that I always act joyfully? No, unfortunately my flesh still rises and I want what I want, which isn’t what brings joy to the forefront of my mind, heart and spirit. Usually it brings quite the opposite.
Those are the times that I search scripture and renew my mind. Once my mind is in line with God’s Word, it isn’t long before my heart is filled to overflowing with joy.
John 16:22 in the Amplified speaks of those times. “So for the present you are also in sorrow – in distress and depressed. But I will see you again and [then] your hearts will rejoice, and no one can take from you your joy (gladness, delight).”
Phil 4:4, one of my favorite scriptures, says “Rejoice in the Lord always – delight, gladden yourselves in Him; again I say Rejoice!”
I also love 1 Peter 1:8. “Without having seen Him you love Him; though you do not [even] now see Him you believe in Him, and exult and thrill with inexpressible and glorious (triumphant, heavenly) joy.
Father, I thank you that my joy is not based on what I do, think or say. It is based on You alone. You make my joy full to overflowing as I “trust (lean on, rely on and be confident) in You, Lord, and do good; so shall I dwell in the land and feed surely on Your faithfulness, and truly I shall be fed.” Ps. 37:2 Amplified.