A Study of the Fruit of the Spirit—Part 2: Joy

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).

There are different views on the importance of the fruits of the Spirit in the Christian life. Differing ideas on whether this list is exhaustive or merely illustrative. Paul’s list of fruits in Galatians 5 is not random or haphazard. Paul’s list is not an open list meant to include whatever characteristic we feel is missing. With the word “such” we should not assume that Paul is meaning to say that these characteristics are not specific, special, or holy. By “against such things there is no law” Paul is admonishing believers toward these fruits. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul mentions these particular fruits as evidences of the presence of the Spirit of God in the life of the regenerated believer. They reveal God’s character shining forth through the life of the believer by the supernatural power of the indwelling presence of God the Spirit.

The second of the listed fruits of the Spirit is joy. We have recently begun studying the letter to the Philippians in one of our Sunday morning Sunday School classes. Philippians is a dynamic and hopeful book, full of powerful hope and help for the Christian. If the book of Philippians could be summed up in one word, that word would be “Joy.”

Paul writes Philippians from prison. His circumstances are not what we would consider positive. And yet, Paul has a joy that circumstance cannot touch. This leads us to the definition of joy. Joy is not happiness. The root of the word happiness comes from a Norse term “Happ.” “Happ” referred to luck or success. Often the etymology of a word has very little to do with the modern use of that word, but in this case, there is definite correlation. Happiness depends on circumstance. Weather, traffic, mood, health—so many factors can weigh in to affect our happiness and influence our impact on the happiness of others. Happiness is, by its very nature, a fleeting emotion. We can be happy one moment and then something as drastic as a car crash, or as simple as an unexpected word of correction or criticism, can rob us of our fleeting happy feelings.

As Paul serves the Lord in prison, he writes these inspired words.

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice” (Philippians 4:4).

“I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content” (Philippians 4:10-11).

In Paul, we see a man who endured great suffering again and again for the cause of the gospel. We see a man who remained unshaken and unmoved in his determination to spread the saving gospel of Jesus Christ despite painful opposition. We see a man who sang hymns while chained in a dungeon. We see a man full of joy, and we see a man who desires this same joy for all those who believe.

The LORD your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.

In Matthew 5:11-12, Jesus says: “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.”

In the same way, the disciples rejoiced in Acts 5:41: “Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.”

This joy is not from the suffering itself. By no means! Rather this joy we have in the midst of persecution comes from the knowledge that we are intimately connected with our Heavenly Father and we are doing His will by His Spirit. It is interesting to note that in the list of the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5, joy follows immediately after love. Paul reminds us in Romans 8:38-39: “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

With that assurance of that undefeatable love comes a joy undefeatable. God himself is the foundation upon which the life of the Christian is built. By the blood of Christ, we have been adopted into the family of God. Nothing on this earth can rid us of that relationship. Nothing in all creation can now or will ever be able to diminish His everlasting love for us!

The Psalmist Asaph and Paul the apostle agree.

“Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:25-26).

“…though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee;   as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ…” (Philippians 3:4-8).

If you do not know the joy of the Lord today, your Father longs to give it to you. The joy of the Lord is your strength. Regardless of the circumstances you may be under, Jesus has overcome the world.

In his book Laugh Again—Experience Outrageous Joy, Chuck Swindoll shares Tim Hansel’s true account of an eighty-two-year-old man who had served as a pastor for over fifty of those years. In his later years he struggled with skin cancer. It was so bad that he had already had fifteen skin operations. Tim writes:

Besides suffering from the pain, he was so embarrassed about how the cancer had scarred his appearance that he wouldn’t go out. Then one day he was given “You Gotta Keep Dancin’” in which I tell of my long struggle with the chronic, intense pain from a near-fatal climbing accident. In that book, I told of the day when I realized that the pain would be with me forever. At that moment, I made a pivotal decision. I knew that it was up to me to choose how I responded to it. So I chose joy…

After reading awhile, the elderly pastor said he put the book down, thinking, “He’s crazy. I can’t choose joy.”

Later the elderly pastor, while reading John 15:11, felt the Lord speak to his heart, “I want to give you my joy so that your joy may be complete.” A gift! he thought. He didn’t know what to do, so he got down on his knees. Then he didn’t know what to say, so he said, “Well, then, Lord, give it to me.” And suddenly, as he described it, this incredible hunk of joy came from heaven and landed on him. “I was overwhelmed,” he wrote. “It was like the joy talked about in Peter, a ‘joy unspeakable and full of glory.’ I didn’t
know what to say, so I said, ‘Turn it on, Lord, turn it on!’” And before he knew it, he was dancing around the house. He felt so joyful that he actually felt born again–again. And this astonishing change happened at the age of 82.

Beloved, it is never too late. And it’s never too dark. The Light of the world desires to shine His light of love, life, victory, and JOY into your heart and mind. He is a God that rejoices over you. He desires to see His joy come alive IN you.

The LORD your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.
(Zephaniah 3:17)

Pastor Brian Torres

July 1, 2023

Troy Christian Chapel
400 E. Long Lake Road
Troy, MI 48085

Phone: (248) 689-2046
Email: staff@troychapel.org

Sunday School - 9:00 a.m.
Worship Service - 10:30 a.m.

Worship & Bible Study - 7:00 p.m.
Children - 7:00 p,m,