September 24, 2011 by Chris French
When we start exploring the “joy” Paul talks about in the Fruits of the Spirit we find a joy that is not quenched by pain (1st Thess. 1.6). In fact Christians are to feel joy about our struggles because those struggles make us stronger (James 1.2). That’s an upside down concept to us. We go to great extremes to avoid pain, but the Bible says that the most intense pain cannot take away our joy. I want to know more about that kind of joy!
It is the same kind of joy that happens in Heaven when a sinner repents (Luke 15.7, 10). This is the same joy the Macedonian churches felt. Even though they were being hunted and were materially poor they were still giving their money to relieve the poverty of the Christians in Jerusalem because of their joy (2nd Cor. 8.1-3). While pain cannot take away this kind of joy disunity pulls and tugs at it. In Philippians 2.2 Paul pleads with the Philippians to share the same mind. This action on their part would make his joy complete. It seems the joy that is a sign of the Spirit living inside of us is a spiritual happiness. It’s not temporary, superficial or carnal.
In fact this kind of joy comes from being around God’s people. In Philemon 7 Paul says that Philemon had made him have this joy because of Philemon’s work to build up the saints, so his kindness had brought Paul joy. In 1st Thessalonians 2.19 Paul says that the Thessalonians’ faith and steadfastness brought him joy. The Philippian’s partnership with Paul in the gospel had brought him joy (Phil. 1.3-5).
More directly though this kind of joy comes straight from the throne of God. In Romans 5.11 Paul writes, “More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” Because of our newly acquired friendship with God we can and should have this kind of joy! “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of
His Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by His life” (Romans 5.10). This joy that is a permanent fixture in the faithful person’s life has deep roots grounded in the church and is a spiritual joy. One that no one or no situation can take from you because this joy comes from our friendship with God.