Do you enjoy life? I realize that this is a loaded question — but really, do you?
There are many different “joy-killers” that we face every day. There are obligations and duties that become so horribly mundane, repetitive, and boring! There are people that are difficult, frustrating, and downright infuriating! There are sins that stick to us like barnacles on a barge — and it seems that regardless of how hard we scrape, they remain parasitic and stubborn. We trudge through life exhausted, pessimistic, and miserable. Yet, we know that we are supposed to be joyful so we project that we are delighted, happy, and joyful. Yet, can we not actually become joyful?
Jesus announced without equivocation that one of the purposes for His coming was that we might have joy and that our “joy would be made full” (John 15:11). It is apparent then, that our ability to have joy is directly connected to what Jesus did. When the angels announced Jesus’ birth, they declared: “I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people” (Luke 2:10). Hence, joy is something that is directly tied to the accomplishments of Christ Jesus. Therefore, to have joy we must be in a vibrant personal relationship with the One whose joy is given to us by means of this relationship. To be out of fellowship with Christ is to be without joy.
In this sense, joy may be defined as “that deep sense of personal peace and encouragement whereby we realize that God’s purpose is to glorify Himself in us and bless us through Christ.” To put it more succinctly, joy is “the excitement that God is blessing me to His own glory!” Even when facing difficult circumstances, struggles, trials, temptations, distress, deprivations, etc., I am able to know that because of the accomplishment of Christ, God is going to bless me with grace through these circumstances.
The Scriptures state that joy comes directly through our relationship with Jesus Christ. That relationship and the enjoyment of that relationship is strengthened through various avenues through which joy comes. We are told that joy is directly connected with Christ Jesus as gained through the following, all of which bring joy.
- Yielding to the Holy Spirit brings joy — (Galatians 5:22, cp. Acts 13:52) Joy is part of the fruit of the Spirit; therefore, in order to have joy, we must be yielded to the Holy Spirit, submitting to His leading.
- Receiving the Word brings joy — (Luke 8:13, cp. John 15:11) Turning to God’s Word for direction and then doing what it says produces joy. In this sense, obedience to God’s Word is its own reward.
- Serving the Lord brings joy — (Luke 10:17, cp. 2 Corinthians 1:24) The greatest privilege that a sinner can know is to be able to serve God through Christ Jesus. Serving the Lord brings gladness and joy.
- Evangelizing brings joy — (Luke 15:7, cp. 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20) There is nothing compared to being used by God to introduce a sinner to the Savior. Even hearing of new believers produces joy. Sharing the Gospel is a joyful experience as Christ is worthy of being exalted through our efforts.
- Thinking of the resurrection brings joy — (Luke 24:41 - cp. Hebrews 12:2) Realizing that the struggles of this life are not final — that victory has been secured and insured through the resurrection of Christ — enables us to be joyful in any circumstance.
- Worshiping brings joy — (Luke 24:52, cp. Philippians 2:17-18) Bowing before the Lord, coming before Him with thanksgiving brings gladness because in His presence there are pleasures forever. The Scriptures in the Old Testament talk about shouts of joy that issue as we worship.
- Effectual praying brings joy — (John 16:24, cp. Philippians 1:4) There is a settling effect that is produced by coming before the Lord in prayer. As we observe God hear and answer our prayers, we know a deep joy that assures us that God is truly interested in bringing Himself glory through our lives.
- Persevering in trials brings joy — (James 1:2, cp. Jude 24) There is something uniquely joy-producing in persevering through trials, watching God’s faithfulness sustain us to His glory. It is when we fail to see the ways that God is at work in our trials that we become miserable and downcast.
If you are without joy, it is fairly certain that your relationship with Jesus Christ has waned. The only way to see joy restored is to pursue all of the eight avenues through which joy comes. I pray that if you are not, you will soon begin to enjoy the life that God has promised to give to you as you seek to walk with Christ Jesus!