by Kevin Burton
The fruit of the Spirit is the outgrowth of a life surrendered to Jesus Christ and in consistent pursuit of His will.
Last month we went to Galatians 5:22-23 to look at that fruit (“Shopping For Fruit With Paul In Galatians,” June 12). We return to our series today to look at joy, the second fruit listed in the passage.
Our friends at www.gotquestions.org reminded us that this fruit comes not from our effort but from the Holy Spirit.
“‘Fruit’ is the natural result of growth. And ‘of the Spirit’ explains exactly Who causes that growth—it’s not our striving or straining, but the power of the Holy Spirit,” the website reads.
“Literally, the ‘fruit of the Spirit’ is what happens when the Holy Spirit indwells a believer. The fruit is the product of the Holy Spirit’s cultivation of character in a heart. Galatians 5:22-23 describes what that fruit looks like:
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” Gal. 5:22-23 NASB).
I have a rare disagreement with the website today. It is not theological, but dealing with definitions.
That website says there is no difference between happiness and joy. I maintain there is a useful, even essential difference between the two.
To me, happiness is to joy what weather is to climate. The one is temporary, the other reflective of an overall state of being.
I am certainly not happy when going through trials, but I can and should be joyful.
“James 1:2 says, ‘Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials.’ Christians can be happy, even in the midst of difficulties, because we know ‘the testing of our faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (verses 3–4),’” the website reads.
“As we persevere through trials, with God’s help, our faith strengthens and matures. By God’s grace we can be happy despite our circumstances.’”
Again, I say that is being joyful. But let’s not belabor that point. The website lists several reasons Christians should be joyful.
“The Greek word for joy is chara. Joy is the natural reaction to the work of God, whether promised or fulfilled,” the website reads. “Joy expresses God’s kingdom—His influence on earth (Romans 14:17). The Spirit’s production of joy can manifest in several different ways:
“The joy of deliverance: When God sets someone free, rejoicing is in order.
1 Samuel 2:1: Hannah was filled with joy at her deliverance from her enemies. Acts 12:14: The servant girl was so overjoyed that God had rescued Peter from prison that she forgot to let Peter in the house.”
“The joy of salvation: Our greatest reason to be joyful is that God wants to save us and spend eternity with us. Nothing is better than this.
“Luke 15:7: All heaven is joyful when a person accepts God’s provision of salvation.
Acts 8:8: The people of Samaria were joyful as they heard the gospel and saw God’s power in healing the sick. Acts 13:52; 15:3: Jewish believers rejoiced when they heard of the work of the Holy Spirit in saving Gentiles.”
“The joy of spiritual maturity: As the Holy Spirit works in us to bear more fruit, we become confident in God’s promises and rejoice in our walk with Him and with other believers.
John 15:11: The fullness of joy comes to those who continue in the love of Christ and obey Him. 2 Corinthians 1:24; 2:3; 7:4; 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20; 3:9: Paul knew joy as the churches gave evidence of the Holy Spirit working among them. Philippians 2:2: Groups of believers who unite in demonstrating the mind, love, and purpose of Christ bring joy to others.”
“The joy of God’s presence: The Holy Spirit draws us to God, in whose presence we can know true joy. Without the Holy Spirit, no one would seek God. Psalm 16:11: “You will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”
“Matthew 2:10; Luke 1:14: Mary and the shepherds were joyful because Immanuel had been born. Matthew 28:8; Luke 24:41: The women who went to Jesus’ tomb and the disciples were overjoyed that He rose from the dead.
“The Greek chara is closely related to charis, which means ‘grace’ or ‘a gift.’ Chara is the normal response to charis—we have joy because of God’s grace. The next step in the progression is to allow our joy to become an action as we express it.
“Possessing joy is a choice. We choose whether to value God’s presence, promises, and work in our lives. When we yield to the Spirit, He opens our eyes to God’s grace around us and fills us with joy (Romans 15:13).
“We don’t need to split hairs between the meaning of joy and happiness. We just need to decide where our joy comes from. Are we happy in the Lord, or are we content with the happiness the world affords?”