An attitude of joy is a way of life that rejoices in the Lord always. Joy is a fruit that has to be produced by the Holy Spirit but at the same time it is a command to be obeyed. As the Holy Spirit produces this spiritual appetite within us we are responsible to partake in Jesus’ joy through abiding in Him and willingly rejoicing in our tribulations without disgruntlement.
Psalm 16:11; 90:15; 97:1
Joy Is A Fruit To Be Produced, A Command To Be Obeyed
- Joy is an emotion or feeling of great happiness and great pleasure. Joy and happiness or gladness are interrelated and indivisible (for who can claim to be joyful and yet unhappy). The “stimulus” or “circumstance” that evokes or causes the emotional state of joyfulness is the determining factor to whether a person is joyful. Therefore, an “attitude of joy” means to have a determined and authentic way of thinking and feeling about God that expresses our happiness and pleasure in Him and leads to an unwavering state of being happy in God.
Romans 5:6-11; (Evil Joy—Hebrews 11:25; James 4:16)
- Joy is a fruit to be produced—the fruit of the Holy Spirit includes “joy” and against such there is no law. Naturally, joy is an emotion expressed in response to circumstances of delight in the temporal sphere of life—such as the birth of your child, eating your favorite food, listening to your favorite song, etc. Spiritually, joy is an emotion expressed in response to circumstances of delight in the eternal God and His workings—such as one sinner that repents, the statutes of the Lord, singing unto the Lord the rock of our salvation, etc. Thus, the Holy Spirit produces in us a joy of a new quality—one that has spiritual appetites, motivations, and expressions. He rouses “joy in God” in us.
Galatians 5:22; Romans 14:17; 1 Thessalonians 1:6 (Luke 15:7, 10; Psalm 19:8; 95:1; 3 John 3-4; Acts 15:3)
- Joy is a command to be obeyed—we are commanded to rejoice in Jesus always. This literally means that we are given an order to feel happiness and pleasure because of our Lord Christ Jesus. We can accomplish this by not having any confidence in ourselves but by being content in and boasting with triumphant joy in Jesus’ achievements. Therefore, this is a command to anchor our joy to Jesus and His unchanging work of grace in our lives and not on other wavering and fleeting circumstances.
Philippians 3:1-3; 4:4-7; 1 Thessalonians 5:16; (Matthew 2:10; 13:44; 28:8; Luke 1:14, 44; 2:10)
To Abide In Jesus And To Be Filled With His Joy
- Jesus wants His joy to remain in us and our joy to be full—to have as much as possible. He wants us to share in the same “joy in God” that Jesus Himself experienced. So we need to know what is the stimulus for this “Jesus joy”. Jesus gives us the answer telling us that the key is “abiding in Him”—apart from Him this quality of joy is unattainable. This “abiding” has the following characteristics:
John 15:9-17 (1-8); 17:6-19; 20:19-20; (Isaiah 35:8-10)
- (1) True salvation—not everyone who says they are Christians really are. Do you have a true personal faith in Jesus alone for salvation? Are you a true believer? Consequently, a true believer finds that the foundation for lasting joy—that no one can take from you—is the resurrection of Jesus. Our hearts should always rejoice at the thought of the resurrection because Jesus has overcome the world and He now lives in us—greater is He that is in you, than He that is in the world. We are to greatly rejoice in our salvation with a joy unspeakable and full of glory. We are to rejoice in being justified by faith and in this hope of the glory of God.
John 16:19-22; 16:33; Romans 5:1-3; 1 Peter 1:3-6; 1 John 1:3-4; 4:4; Acts 16:34; (Matthew 13:20-21; Luke 8:13)
- (2) Bearing fruit—bearing fruit is a natural result of repentance and faith in Jesus. Believers produce good fruit because Christ is good. Therefore, the fruit we bear gives evidence to the faith that we say we believe. What kind of fruit are you bearing?
- (3) Pruning—as true believers God cultivates our lives removing anything that would hinder us from producing fruit and making us holy which leads to producing much fruit and glorifying God.
- (4) Jesus’ words abide in us. This is the “renewed mind”—meaning our hearts are reestablished to know and submit to the truth of God as the foundation of all things right and good. Jesus’ words transforms our thinking which transforms our lives. Thus, knowing the Bible and its correct teaching affects our joyfulness.
2 John 12
- (5) Asking and receiving—those who are abiding in Jesus and His word have the privilege of praying, being heard, and getting their prayers answered. Jesus invites His disciples to an active prayer life so that our joy may be full. Are we not joyful (joy-filled) because we are not prayerful (prayer-filled)?
- (6) Obedience—we are to continue and abide in Jesus’ love. Jesus defines this by saying that if we keep His commandments and keep His words we are abiding in His love. This is summarized as loving God and loving others. Jesus is the greatest example of this—He joyfully obeyed God in all things including the cross.
John 13:34-35; 14:15; 14:21-24; Mark 12:29-31; Hebrews 12:2
To Willingly Rejoice In Tribulations Without Disgruntlement
- We are to glory or rejoice in our tribulations because of the spiritual virtues that it produces in our lives. Therefore, as we rejoice in our tribulations (trials, sufferings, persecutions, hardships) we produce patience—meaning we learn to correctly endure such hardships; and this produces experience—meaning we have been tested and have continued on in our faith thus showing proof of it (compare Matthew 13:20-21; Luke 8:13); and this produces hope—an established and unwavering confidence in God; and this hope “maketh not ashamed”—meaning that it will not disappoint us because of God’s great love which is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is graciously given to all believers. Thus, to rejoice in our tribulations leads to a more mature and deeper hope in God which results in greater happiness, pleasure and satisfaction based solely in God alone.
Romans 5:3-5; 12:12; James 1:2-4; 1 Peter 1:6-9; 4:12-19; Hebrews 10:34; Acts 5:41; 13:48-52; Colossians 1:11; 1:24
- Therefore, when something bad happens, I can joyfully accept it because God and His faithfulness to me has not changed—this doesn’t mean that we won’t have other conflicting emotions, but it means that we do have a confident joy that sustains us in the hardest of trials. Even when our emotions fail to uphold joy in the midst of such devastating trials, we still have hope that the Holy Spirit produces this fruit in us. The joy of the Lord is our strength knowing one day we will enter into His presence which is fulness of joy.
Nehemiah 8:10; Psalm 16:11; (Matthew 25:21-23; Luke 6:23; Revelation 19:6-8; 2 Corinthians 4:17; Romans 8:18)
- Sometimes we loose our joy and become disgruntled with our situation, dissatisfied with God, disillusioned by the gospel and full of bitterness. Often this is because we loose our focus or because of some unfulfilled expectations. At such a time, we need to re-align our focus to the hope that is in God, to become re-enchanted with the truth of the gospel and re-align our expectations with that of the bible (stop having wrong expectations about God). We need to stop listening to the wrong “inner thoughts” of despair and the voices of others who are telling us that we are cast down, but start preaching and speaking truth to ourselves, exhorting ourselves to put our hope in God, and proclaiming that we shall again praise Him—the health of our countenance (our salvation), and our God.
Psalm 42:5-6, 11; Philippians 2:16; Psalm 23:1-6; (Ephesians 4:30-32; James 3:11-15)
- What does it mean that joy is a fruit to be produced?
- What does it mean that joy is a command to be obeyed?
- How do we abide in Jesus and be filled with His joy?
- Should we rejoice in tribulations? Why?
- What should we do if we loose our joy?