“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:16-25)
We must understand that joy comes from God
“You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever” (Psalm 16:11). True joy can only be found in God. Not only can we fully experience this, but with help of the Spirit we can also draw strength from it or grow strong in it, for it is said “Do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10b). Secondly, we should experience joy through His salvation, because God is the embodiment of salvation, and we can joyously draw His living water from the springs of salvation. Isaiah 12:2-3 says “Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation. Therefore you will joyously draw water from the springs of salvation” (Isaiah 12:2-3).
I find these verses very reassuring, and one of the first question that becomes to mind is if I really turn to God for my joy. If that was the case, if I really turn to God for my joy, then I wouldn’t try to find joy in other places than God, which also means that I don’t have idols. I don’t worship something else. I must admit that it is not the case. I do turn to other places for joy, like my wife, my daughter, good music, company of friends, etc. Not that any of these are wrong, but losing any or all of the above should not affect my joy, as none of these are the source of my joy. I like the verse from Isaiah. The fact that it is a spring of salvation implies that it is alive and active (like Jesus and His word). We should joyously drink from this living water, always.
We should actively pursue joy
Sin or an unwilling spirit causes us to not fully experience and understand the joy of the Lord that is ours. It is an action on our part to pursue this true joy. Like the psalmist asks in Psalm 51:12, “Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit“, we should ask God for a willing spirit. The combination of a willing spirit and the restoration of our joy also prepairs us much better when facing trials. Because we should “consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance” (James 1:2-3). Like Jesus facing the cross with joy (Hebrews 12:1-2) we too should pursue joy through our trials.
We must abide in joy
Once we understand that joy comes from the Lord, and that we have pursued joy, we must abide in it. We should because “a joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones” (Proverbs 17:22), and “a joyful heart makes a cheerful face, but when the heart is sad, the spirit is broken” (Proverbs 15:13), and so joy restores us, but also because we love Him and believe in Him, like is said in 1 Peter 1:8, “And though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory“.
We must bring joy to others
All of the understanding, pursuing and abiding in should lead to wanting to express that joy, share that joy with people around us. Once our joy has been restored (Psalm 51:12), it should becomes infectious and we should be led to teach others, described in the next verse Psalm 51:13, “Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners will be converted to You“. The Gospel is the good news of Jesus, which should be brought with joy like the angel who announced the birth of Jesus to Mary in Luke 2:10, “But the angel said to them, do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people“.
But joy should not only be brought to unbelievers. We should also share the joy amongst brothers and sisters in the faith, to encourage each other, as described in Acts 15:3 “Therefore, being sent on their way by the church, they were passing through both Phoenicia and Samaria, describing in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and were bringing great joy to all the brethren“, and by Paul when writing to the church in Philippi “But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all. You too, I urge you, rejoice in the same way and share your joy with me“.
We must understand that true joy can only be found in God. We must ask God for a willing spirit in order for that true joy to be restored. This involves actions on our behalf. We must actively engage in this process and pursue it, so we experience it and abide in it. I believe that once we understand and experience this true joy that comes from God, our joy becomes so infectious that we cannot stop sharing this good news of the death and resurrection of Jesus with people around us who do not believe in this. I am looking forward pursuing this as I am very curious, to say the least, to experience what this Godly joy feels like.