The apostle Paul wrote to the churches of Galatia and said, "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law." The message of Galatians 5:22-23 still resounds today. If we are born of the Spirit (John 3:5, Acts 2:38, Romans 8) it is natural for us to bear the fruit of the Spirit. What does that mean? In this space today, I would like for us to consider "JOY" as a fruit of the Spirit.
On Tuesday I had the pleasure of baptizing a young man named London into Christ! It was an amazing moment! After the baptism I went back to my office to start working on my article. I knew it was going to be about JOY, but the baptism gave me some inspiration. Why are we so full of JOY when we are baptized or watch a baptism? The thought of salvation offers hope to the believer. It has brought confidence and assurance in one's eternal destiny. Do you really have the hope of salvation? Do you struggle with doubt? Do you have abounding JOY because of salvation?
Our world overflows with sorrow. Just look around you and you will see riots, sickness, disease, neglect, abuse, violence, terrorism, etc. In homes, places of business, schools, and throughout every community you can sense that something is terribly wrong. There is misery, pain, and tears. We see broken lives, broken hearts, and broken homes are in evidence in every city. Is there any hope for mankind? Does anyone have a workable solution to this mounting problem of human suffering? Yes, there is an answer. Salvation comes with JOY unspeakable!
Christians should be the happiest people on the planet but far to many church goers look like they’ve been weaned on a pickle. We see sour faced, contentious, negativists that have their heads in the mud. When did we start letting finger pointers, whistle blowers, hypocrites, and squeaky wheels have the loudest voices? Is that the picture we have of Jesus? Or of the early church? I asked a preacher friend what it would take for His church to grow. I though he might say a few more baptisms, but his response was "A few more funerals should do it." That is heartbreaking, yet possibly true!
We can become our own worst enemy. We forget that Satan is our real enemy and start fighting among ourselves. We lose sight of the fact that we have treasures in heaven and that we are only strangers in this world anyway. I am only an ambassador in this country with a temporary work visa. I don’t have time to deal with love busters, grace robbers, faith stealers, and joy snatchers... because I’ve got work to do!
We must rediscover the JOY and spirit of the first century church. The Word of God! This book has inspired nations and moved multitudes and yet few Christians read it cover to cover, or attempt to replicate its message in their lives. How can you read this book and not be changed? How could someone glaze over the stories of the providence of God, the revival and restoration of God’s people, Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection, or the good works of the early church?
If you are saved, and have the hope of salvation, you should be full of JOY. Psalm 35:9 says, "And my soul will be JOYful in the LORD: it shall rejoice in His salvation." Isaiah 35:10 says, "And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting JOY upon their heads: they shall obtain JOY and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away." Romans 14:17 says, "For the Kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and JOY in the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13 says, "Now may the God of hope fill you with all JOY and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Spirit."
JOY is a product of heaven and cannot be bought, manufactured, inherited, or stolen. JOY is a gift from God, it is the fruit of His Holy Spirit, and you need it! May God bless you and keep you! Choose JOY.
You are loved.
Dr. Ray Reynolds