Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…
In verse 25, Paul adds If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. The way we handle ourselves should be in line with these attributes of the Holy Spirit. The second of these is joy.
By my count, the Bible has the word ‘joy’ translated into it 171* times. The literal translation of the Greek word xapa is simply joy or gladness. Joy is defined as great delight or elation. I know it’s easy for us to feel joy when life is great. I think we can all say we feel joy in the good times. But where does this joy come from if it disappears when challenges arise?
When life is going well, I can be the most bubbly, happy, excited-to-be-alive person you’ve ever met! But does my joy come from the Lord or my own comfort level with how life is going? That can be a painful question to ask ourselves. I know for me, finding joy in the hard times can seem impossible. But if my joy comes from the Lord, it shouldn’t be fleeting. When hard times come, as they always do, I can do a 180° spin at the drop of a hat. Can you relate to this? Joy in all moments IS possible, as we see throughout the scriptures, but I can attest to the fact that it is not easy in our own strength.
To let myself feel more joy, and exude that joy onto others, I have to be intentional about it. I refer to James 1:2 when I’m really struggling – Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds. We need to remember that the Lord uses these traits of the Holy Spirit within us to reach others and share His goodness with them. When I need a reminder of the great purpose of finding joy, I refer to John 15:11 and John 17:13. John clearly shows in these passages that his joy in the Spirit can pass on to others. And ours’ can, too!
John 15:11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
John 17:13 But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.
As I ponder on this, I can see how allowing the Holy Spirit to bring us joy in all times can really expand God’s kingdom. When you interact with someone who exudes joy, it’s contagious, isn’t it? It’s like you can feel their joy inside of you. So we can see how important joy is, but how do we get it and, more importantly, how do we keep it?
Sometimes we just have to faith it till we make it! It’s about taking life one moment at a time. If you start trying to prepare mentally to find joy in the future, it’s going to get scary and overwhelming. And just about when something gets to be too much to process, we tend to give up on the idea entirely; and not always intentionally. It’s natural for us to back away from the hard stuff.
Don’t set yourself up for failure. Don’t make this bigger than it has to be. Express joy with intent moment by moment. In each moment of the day, before you interact with someone, before you speak, before you cook dinner or mop the floors, say to yourself, I choose joy.
In preparing for writing this post, I analyzed my joyful feelings for a while. (We will discuss feelings soon). I have perceived that joy comes in a large part for myself in gratitude. Think about when you’re most joyful; a baby’s birth, a wedding day, getting a gift from your spouse. These are the moments when we are so grateful, feeling so blessed. But not all moments are like these. In fact, most moments are not like these. I think a lot of our joy can come from expressing gratitude in the hardest moments. Again, just like with love, it’s not about feeling joy, it’s showing joy. Just because we don’t feel it, doesn’t mean we can’t purposefully show it. For example, when I am doing laundry, I try to remember to thank the Lord that we have so many clothes to wear when some have little to none. Now, I don’t always remember! But it certainly puts me in the right mindset to be filled with joy. Same thing goes for dishes. Lord, how blessed we are to be able to feed our family so well. How about cleaning the toilet? Thank God for indoor plumbing! Because, guys, it’s about 6° here in Michigan right now and I’m pretty sure I’d freeze my tuckus off outside!
We have so much to be grateful for, which means we have so many ways to express joy. Praying for God to give us joy in our hearts, joy that comes from Him, that’s the first step. When I ask God to prepare my heart through prayer, I certainly am a lot stronger in Him. We are not alone in this! We have the most amazing Father who wants to help us. Nehemiah 8:10 says, And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Amen. He is our strength. Let’s go to Him and ask Him to help us show the joy of the Holy Spirit, to bear fruit, and to further His kingdom, which is what it’s all about.
Please don’t expect perfection of yourself, because we all know that’s not possible. There is only One who is perfect. That doesn’t mean we don’t strive, but it does mean we have to accept God’s grace when we fail. Let’s face it, when you’ve picked up the 400th dirty sock off the floor, it’s not easy to act joyful! Let’s do this, ladies!
Challenge time. This week, I challenge you (and myself) to be intentional and purposeful with expressing joy.
- When you find yourself in a challenging situation this week, I want you to stop and say to yourself, I choose joy. Then react or respond to the situation.
- Try to think of the snowball effect. How can expressing joy in this moment bring others to the Lord? That will give you a greater sense of purpose with your joyful attitude.
- Focus on gratitude. Being grateful will combat how we take so many things for granted, which leads to less complaining and more joy!
I would love if you would come back and share your experiences! Thank you for reading and God bless.
Love in Christ,
*Count Acquired using English Standard Version Bible
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