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Bible verses about Joy
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Webster's New World Dictionary defines joy as synonymous with "happy," "glad," and "cheerful." A thesaurus relates it to "exultation," "rapture," "satisfaction," and "pleasure." Webster's specifically defines it as "a very glad feeling; happiness; great pleasure; delight." It also refers to the source or cause of delight.

These definitions only define the expression of the wonderful emotion. They fail to consider the causes of joy, the circumstances in which it is expressed, or its longevity. In these areas, the Bible presents a much more complex virtue than these definitions indicate.

Recently, the state of Texas executed a woman for murder. An item the murderess mentioned while giving her testimony pertains to this subject. She stated that in her drug-induced state of mind while killing two people with a pick-ax, she experienced a sexual thrill each time she drove the pick-ax into the bodies of her victims. She actually felt a pleasurable satisfaction in murder!

This gruesomely establishes that the cause of joy—or perhaps any other emotion—must be an important consideration in understanding biblical joy. Our minds can become so perverted and twisted in its response to stimuli that what we feel or what another sees on the outside cannot be blindly trusted as the righteous response of a righteous cause. The cause may be the very reason the joy is neither enduring nor satisfying.

Thus, the Bible takes a dim view of mirth or laughter, showing much laughter as having its roots in scorn or folly. Many in this world find enjoyment in other people's discomfort, stupidity, or even embarrassment, laughing uproariously at its exposure. God admonishes in Proverbs 24:17-18:

Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles; lest the LORD see it, and it displease Him, and He turn away His wrath from him.

Because it is natural to do so, many do precisely what God warns not to do! God implies that He will turn His wrath from the enemy to us. Barnes' Notes comments that rejoicing like this could be suicidal.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fruit of the Spirit: Joy


 

Biblical joy is inseparable from our relationship with God and springs from our knowledge and understanding of the purpose of life and the hope of living with God for eternity when there will be joy evermore. If God is actually present in our lives, the joy He experiences can begin in us (Psalm 16:11). Joy is the sign that life has found its purpose, its reason for being! This, too, is a revelation of God, for no one can come to Him and find the purpose of life unless He, by His Spirit, calls him and reveals it (John 6:44; I Corinthians 2:10).

Quite a number of verses show that the joy of God's children arises from sources other than those sought by the world. Notice how the early believers found joy:

  • So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart. (Acts 2:46)
  • Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household. (Acts 16:34)
  • And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction with joy of the Holy Spirit. (I Thessalonians 1:6)

These verses point to the same general source of their joy. Once they were called and heard the gospel, they believed and received it. Upon repentance, they were forgiven, baptized, and given God's Holy Spirit, and they reacted with joy at God's revelation of His purpose and at their communion with Him in His wonderful work.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fruit of the Spirit: Joy


 

One characteristic that plays a major role toward producing biblical joy is common to all the Beatitudes. Each contains a measure of self-denial, of selflessness. When considered with contrasting verses, a clear picture of another source of joy emerges. One of Job's friends tells him, "Do you not know this of old, since man was placed on earth, that the triumphing [rejoicing] of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite is but for a moment?" (Job 20:4-5). Solomon adds, "Folly is joy to him who is destitute of discernment, but a man of understanding walks uprightly" (Proverbs 15:21).

These Scriptures indicate causes that produce opposite effects. Self-denial done with the purpose of serving God and fellow man produces sustained blessing, one that carries on into the Kingdom of God for all eternity. Meanwhile, pursuing self-centered pleasure will indeed produce joy. The longest it can possibly last is to the grave, but the Bible implies that it will be much shorter because evil—and self-centeredness is evil—has the devastating proclivity of devouring its perpetrators. This is undoubtedly why the proverb warns us to use our understanding to walk uprightly.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fruit of the Spirit: Joy


 

God Himself and our relationship with Him are the source and cause of any real joy we might have. Notice these scriptures:

  • Then they returned, every man of Judah and Jerusalem, with Jehoshaphat in front of them, to go back to Jerusalem with joy, for the L ORD had made them rejoice over their enemies. (II Chronicles 20:27)
  • And they kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with joy; for the LORD made them joyful, and turned the heart of the king of Assyria toward them, to strengthen their hands in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel. (Ezra 6:22)
  • Also that day they offered great sacrifices, and rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy; the women and the children also rejoiced, so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard afar off. (Nehemiah 12:43)

In each case, the specific incident that caused their joy is less important than the undeniable fact that, for those who have a relationship with God through a covenant, God Himself, combined with their yielding to Him within His purpose, is the source and cause of joy. This is vital to understand because it points out a major cause of biblical joy.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fruit of the Spirit: Joy


 

Webster defines joy as "a condition or feeling of high pleasure or delight; happiness or gladness." After a few glasses of wine or a nip of Jack Daniel's, we can be in "a condition . . . of high pleasure," but this is a temporary effect—not the type of joy we seek.

How does having a Positive Mental Attitude (PMA), pushed by today's motivational speakers, fit into real joy? There is something to driving oneself to stay positive, but too many people try this kind of pop psychology with no foundation under them. It expresses itself as forced, contrived, and transparently artificial.

In both the Old and New Testament, the words translated "joy" mean much the same as the English word: gladness, cheerfulness, calm delight. In the New Testament, the Greek word chara is the noun form of "joy," and is used 51 times. Interestingly, the first 23 occurrences (through Acts 13:52) describe an emotion. People are glad about something that has happened, as in Luke 6:23: "Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! For indeed your reward is great in heaven. . . ."

Beginning in Acts 13, however, a subtle change occurs in the usage of chara. Of the remaining 28 times, it appears, fully half tie joy with trials, suffering, persecution, and the like. Why?

My conclusion is that a change had begun to take place in the church about this time. The first 20 years had passed, and now the apostles were dealing with a more mature body of believers. The people's problems had become more substantial, stemming from a lack of application rather than a lack of knowledge.

Also, about this time, the apostle Paul emerges as the dominant figure. Scholars think that he may have written the epistle to the Galatians about this time. Galatians 5:22 lists joy as the second fruit of the Holy Spirit. Taking the view that the church was coming under fire, and Christians were struggling to grow, we can suppose that Paul began to see and teach joy in a different light.

Joy is more than PMA. Chara is more than just a warm, fuzzy feeling. It is a character trait tempered by fire!

Mike Ford
Joy and Trial


 

Exodus 3:18

This is the original request Moses made to Pharaoh for Israel to be set free. The reason was that they might be free to sacrifice to their God. The same principle applies to us; this is why God has freed us. Recall that Romans 12:1 charges us with the responsibility, once we are free of our slavery to Satan and sin, to be living sacrifices.

The blessing of our God-given calling makes available to us the opportunity to dedicate our lives in service to Him. Its magnificent potential opens the door to positive motivation to counterbalance the somewhat negative sense that obligation to Christ seems to impose. Because He first gives us evidence of His love for us, it enables us to believe Him, to live by faith, and to live a life of self-sacrifice to glorify Him. It has provided entrance to the Kingdom of God.

The just shall live by faith because they know Him in His loving character. This causes any lingering negative sense that human nature has toward being required to keep God's commands to fade gradually into the background, freeing us to obey from the heart in sincere gratitude and joy.

John W. Ritenbaugh
A Priceless Gift


 

Deuteronomy 12:11-14

The Israelite set aside the second tithe throughout the year and consumed it at the annual holy festivals of God for whatever his heart desired. This means that he spent the tithe on things that enhanced his glorifying of God or added joy to the feast.

The same applies to our use of second tithe today. Unlike the use of first tithe, the individual who saves second tithe should use it. God wants His people to enjoy the physical abundance He provides at the feasts as they worship Him and learn to reverence and fear Him in ways that please Him. Because of His blessing, many can also help others observe the feasts.

Martin G. Collins
Tithing: Second Tithe


 

1 Samuel 18:6

The ancient Israelites expressed joy by singing, dancing, playing musical instruments, and shouting at victory celebrations, festivals, sacrifices, and coronations. Gladness and joy are blessings from God. Gladness is the experience of pleasure, joy, or delight, resulting from happiness and joy. Joy is a quality, not simply an emotion, grounded upon God Himself and derived from Him. It should characterize our lives as Christians. Joy springs from the prospect of possessing our desires and can be temporary or long-lasting.

Martin G. Collins
Joy


 

Job 20:5

Carnal joy is temporary because it is based in self-centeredness. By the lifestyles of the average, unconverted person, we can easily see that they live their lives according to the saying, "Ignorance is bliss!" But God tells His people not to rejoice like the world. It is better to have sorrow in humility than joy in pride.

Martin G. Collins
Joy


 

Job 38:4

The terms "morning stars" and "sons of God" are biblical names for angels, who express joy when events in God's plan unfold. Not only God but also angels are thrilled when a sinner repents of his worldly ways. Prayer for forgiveness brings about joyous repentance and restoration of righteousness in a person's life.

Martin G. Collins
Joy


 

Psalm 16:11

Do you realize that through prayer, through Bible study, and through attending Sabbath services, we are in the presence of God? In His presence is joy evermore—not discouragement, not despair, not despondency, not guilt—joy!

He is such a powerful Personality that, when we are in His presence, it is very difficult, if not impossible, not to be affected by what He is. This is why we need to pray—it is an absolute necessity! We need to take advantage of this invitation to fellowship with Him, in study and prayer, because this great Personality wants to infuse us with what He is. It becomes part of us because we are around Him.

We have a proclivity to adapt to the environment in which we find ourselves. When we have grown up in this world, our character is set in such a way that it is against God. Only by being in His presence can this anti-God attitude be counteracted. This invitation to fellowship with Him is our salvation.

And there is not just joy in His presence but love, peace, goodness, gentleness, kindness, mercy, self-control, and every other attribute of the Spirit of God. In His presence is "where it's at."

Can we see the story that is being worked out from Adam and Eve on? Through the sins of mankind, he became separated from God. But now, through Christ, the ability to return to His presence, into fellowship Him—into the very Garden of Eden, as it were—has been opened to us again. It is only in His presence that all of the good attributes of His Spirit are available to us.

This highlights the importance of Passover. It is not just the death of Christ but the effect of His death: reestablishment of communion with God, of fellowship with Him.

Having access to His presence does not mean that the Christian will never experience depression or despair, but we will never experience it for very long if we continue to fellowship with God. It will motivate us to refocus on the reality of what God is working and doing in us. In other words, our knowledge that we are keeping the commands of God and that we love our brethren and that we believe in the name (that is, the nature and all of the characteristics) of Jesus Christ will pull us out of our doldrums. We know what we have experienced with God in the past and realize that our present dilemma is not the end of the world.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Love and Fellowship


 

Psalm 21:1

There will be everlasting joy when God's Kingdom is established on earth. Joy and gladness are not only deep inward feelings, but they are also expressed in visible celebration when God's people gather together. Speaking of the future church, Isaiah 60:15 says, "Whereas you have been forsaken and hated, so that no one went through you, I will make you an eternal excellence, a joy of many generations." In the meantime, the apostle Paul advises us to "rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I will say, rejoice!" (Philippians 4:4)

Martin G. Collins
Joy


 

Psalm 133:1

Godly unity produces joy because it overcomes the sorrow of self-seeking and fulfills the true love of outgoing concern for others. Joy through unity comes when God's people have all things in common—the same beliefs and desires working toward a common goal.

Martin G. Collins
Joy


 

Proverbs 15:30

For "makes the bones fat," the marginal reference reads, "makes the bones healthy."

"The light of the eyes" - One might think that the psalmist refers the light in one's own eyes, but in this case, it is not. It is the light in another's eyes. What would we consider to be the light in another person's eyes within the context of this verse? It has to be something that the person is joyous, happy, enthused, encouraged about. He loves whatever they heard, and when he brings this news, one can see the light in his eyes. What does it do to the observer? It picks him up, and it is good for a person to be in such a situation. This verse illustrates how an environment can produce positive effects.

We know from our own life experiences that this is so. If we step into a room charged with anger, depression, bitterness, envy, jealousy, prideful gossip, or suspicion, what happens to us? We sense it or discern it immediately. We may become defensive and want to leave just as fast as we can.

Conversely, instead of entering a room charged with a negative attitude, perhaps we encounter a positive one. It pulls us toward it and makes us want to join and enjoy the benefits of such a positive, uplifting, and good spirit.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Holy Spirit and the Trinity (Part 4)


 

Ecclesiastes 1:12-13

God subjected the creation to futility, and He did it in hope. He did it because He wants us to think about how life is whenever He allows human nature to have sway, to dominate what happening on earth and in our lives.

Do we want to live this way? Do we want life to be permanently this way? Is there a better way? Are we willing to do something about it so we are part of a better way, one that is not subject to futility but permanent, enduring, and filled with productivity, joy, and a sense of well-being that never ends? Which way do we want? God wants us to go the right way, so He has subjected us to living within it as a prod and reminder.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and the Feast of Tabernacles (Part 1)


 

Ecclesiastes 2:1-11

Solomon admits that his quest rewarded him with a certain amount of joy, but he still found it unsatisfactory. We might think that with all his wealth, good health, and a discerning mind, he would have had joy in abundance. What he accomplished, however, did not leave him with an enduring sense of well-being because his search continued after this experiment ended. He seems so frustrated that he says we should seize the joy as it comes along and be content with it (verse 24). His ultimate conclusion, found in verse 26, is that God determines whether we experience joy.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fruit of the Spirit: Joy


 

Ecclesiastes 2:1-3

Self-indulgence leads to excessive striving for yet more worldly pleasure. For those whose chief aim in life is sensual pleasure, there is never enough to satisfy. Self-indulgence can lead to full-blown addiction. Without God's truth of the coming resurrections of mankind, men see no reason to refrain from a life of pleasure and dissipation, ending in death.

Martin G. Collins
Overcoming (Part 8): Self-Indulgence


 

Ecclesiastes 11:9

God wants young people to enjoy this exciting time of their lives and to be happy. But, being God, He knows that youthful ambitions and energies can get a person into trouble. Such troubles have happened many times to young people in God's church. Thus, with His encouragement He gives a gentle warning: As young people follow their impulses and desires, they need to realize that God will evaluate all they think and do against His teaching.

This applies equally to all of us in all age groups. We must seek joy and happiness within the boundaries of God's moral standards. He promises to bring us into account for all our activities (Romans 2:5-11).

Clyde Finklea
My Parents Won't Let Me!


 

Ecclesiastes 12:1

Solomon is urging this because, when God is neglected, the capacity for having joy in one's life is diminished. He is saying, "Get started now, when you're young!"

John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and the Feast of Tabernacles (Part 2)


 

Ecclesiastes 12:2

There is a progression from sun to moon to stars in terms of the diminishing of light to a person observing from the earth. What does light represent in this context? Joy—the goodness of life. Solomon is asserting that, as a person ages, his capacity to enjoy the good things diminishes. He is underlining the inevitability of the problems of old age.

Even though Solomon directly says, "Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth," his meaning is more emphatic: "Get started now! Do not wait! Do not delay! Live life the right way when you are young because, as you get older, your capacity to enjoy diminishes."

John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and the Feast of Tabernacles (Part 2)


 

Habakkuk 3:17-19

The prophet's subject is famine, but he finds joy even in that! Does this not apply to today (Amos 8:11-12)? Though a famine of true Christianity stalks the land, though everything seems to be gone, we can rejoice in God. Though circumstances reach their lowest ebb, and things seem to be so out of kilter to the way that we think they should go, we can have joy because He has promised to save us—and He will. He has assured us many times, "Just endure this period of trial. Trust in Me."

Verse 19 returns to imagery of the herald, the runner. A deer is known for its fleetness of foot and its ability to bound over any obstacle in its way. For us, running the race set before us (Hebrews 12:1), God is our strength. He enables us to overcome. He helps us to climb the high hills, an image of our reward in the Kingdom of God. God is our strength. He enables us to run and to leap over our obstacles. He is the One that will bring us our reward.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Habakkuk


 

Matthew 9:14-15

The bridegroom's friends would not think of fasting while he was with them. For them, it was a time of festivity and rejoicing—mourning was not appropriate. When the bridegroom left them, their festivities would end, and the proper time for fasting and sorrow would begin.

While Christ, the Bridegroom, was with His disciples, it was a time for joy. Expressing grief by fasting would have been inappropriate at that time. In addition, since Jesus was with them, they had no need to draw closer to Him through fasting. After Christ died, the disciples fasted when appropriate.

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Cloth and Wineskins


 

Matthew 13:44

What happens next? Christ finds us and hides us again, and what is His reaction? Joy! The same sentiment is expressed in Hebrews 12:2.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Parables of Matthew 13 (Part 3): Hidden Treasure


 

Matthew 13:44

The field is the world (verse 38). The treasure is a symbol of the members of the church. In the Old Testament, God calls Israel His "special treasure" (Exodus 19:5; Psalm 135:4) and "My jewels" (Malachi 3:16-17, margin: "special treasure"). In the New Testament, the apostle Peter states that the elect are God's "own special people" (I Peter 2:9-10). This title was transferred from ancient Israel to spiritual Israel, the church (Galatians 6:16). Since Israel is biblically a type of the New Testament church, the "treasure" in this parable represents the church.

The man hides his treasure in the world. "Hid" is used in a negative sense in the Parable of the Leaven, but the context of the Parable of the Hidden Treasure is positive. Prior to their calling, the individual members of the church are lost, but then they are found (called by God) and hidden again in the world (Ephesians 2:1-7). We were once hidden in the world by default because we were just like the world, but we were not hidden from God. He knew who we were before we were called (Psalm 71:5-6; Isaiah 49:1; Jeremiah 1:5; Luke 1:76; Romans 8:28-29; Galatians 1:15-16; II Timothy 2:19-21).

The man is Christ. Jesus reveals here how He views the world in relation to the church. Instead of glorifying us immediately, He hides us after we are called (John 17:11, 14-18) by physically sending us back into the world. The world camouflages us because we still physically look like the world, but being regenerated members of God's church, we are radically different spiritually. We are set apart or sanctified by God's truth (John 17:17), and the world does not readily notice that we have His truth in our hearts and minds. No longer are we hidden in the world because we conform to it, but for the opposite reason. We are hidden in the world with Christ (Colossians 3:3), and the world recognizes neither Him nor us (see John 1:10).

Jesus gave His all, the ultimate sacrifice—His own blood—His life—for us (John 3:16-17; Acts 20:28). His attitude of joy in doing so shows the genuineness of His self-sacrifice for His treasure (Hebrews 12:2). Even though He had to endure crucifixion, He was elated to redeem or purchase His church—those who would become His bride (Revelation 19:7). Christ reflects His Father in every way, and God is a God of joy. When we receive His Spirit, we also begin to receive His joyous nature as a fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22). When we use God's Spirit, joy is produced. As God's elect, we have Christ dwelling in us, and by doing the will of the Father as He did, we can have His joy.

Christ now sits at the right hand of God, continually appearing in the Father's presence, making intercession for us as our Mediator (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 4:14-16; 9:24). Jesus receives great joy from knowing that He is presently in the process of saving the firstfruits of God's Kingdom and will later do the same for the rest of humanity. He maintains His joyous excitement by looking forward to the glorious future of the Family of God and by always doing the will of the Father.

Jesus Christ our Savior found us, a special treasure in the world, and gave His all to call us out of the world and redeem us. He now owns us, and through sanctification, He protects us and hides us from the world.

Martin G. Collins
The Parables of Matthew 13 (Part Six): The Parable of the Hidden Treasure


 

Luke 15:13-17

The question at this point is still, "How are we trying to find satisfaction in life?" We could reword it, "How are we trying to find love, joy, and peace?" The Parable of the Prodigal Son touches on this issue.

Like the young man, we yearn for a feeling of well-being, peace, security, fun, and happiness. Also like him, we pursue after them, attempting to produce them in virtually every way but the Father's way. We, like him, experience the same empty, hollow, something-is-missing feelings.

Some may remember a popular song of a few decades ago sung by Peggy Lee titled "Is That All There Is?" The lyrics dealt with this very subject. The singer recounts having tried so many supposedly exciting and fulfilling things in life yet having found no lasting satisfaction in any of them. Following each experience, she concludes by asking the question, "Is that all there is?" The song clearly expresses that such a life is not truly fulfilling.

What is missing from such a life is the true purpose of life combined with the effort of fulfilling it by living the required way. The three offerings in Leviticus 1-3—the burnt, meal, and peace offerings—broadly define God's way of life: doing all things within the context of His purpose in love. As we have seen, I John 5:3 defines love as keeping the commandments, and the essence of love is sacrificial giving.

Though without the Spirit of God, some people (psychologists, for instance) have figured out much of this. The part they have not determined through observing humanity is the true purpose of life because God has not revealed it to them. They have, however, found that the essence of love is sacrifice and that doing the right things produces a sense of well-being.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Offerings of Leviticus (Part Four): The Peace Offering


 

John 10:1-4

The sheep, like the lover in Song of Songs 2:14, know the voice because they know the Shepherd and trust Him. They trust His voice. In it, they hear safety, security, sustenance, joy, hope, encouragement, love, warmth, and correction that does not turn them aside. The voice is the effective means of communication between Christ and us. The voice not only identifies, but it also communicates concepts to us that reveal both character and emotion.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Unity (Part 4)


 

2 Corinthians 8:2

Our joy through trials is a result of suffering for Christ's sake. Of the persecution we must endure, Jesus says, "Rejoice in that day and leap for joy!" (Luke 6:23). Through the Holy Spirit, God gives us His gift of joy as part of the process of spiritual completion.

Martin G. Collins
Joy


 

Galatians 5:22-24

These qualities are aspects of God's character that we all need to have and use:

Love: Outgoing concern for others. True concern for all of mankind. Not being self-centered. Doing for others what is right, despite their character, appearance, social status, etc. (I Corinthians 13).

Joy: Related to happiness, only happiness requires right circumstances where joy does not. Jesus Christ felt joy though He faced heavy trials (Hebrews 12:2). We should all be joyful having been called by God.

Peace: Peace of mind and peace with God (Philippians 4:6-7).

Longsuffering: Bearing with others who are working out their salvation. Being slow to anger (Romans 15:1; Luke 21:19).

Kindness: Behaving toward others kindly, as God has behaved toward us (Ephesians 4:31-32).

Goodness: Generosity of spirit that springs from imitating Jesus Christ (Psalm 33:4-5).

Faithfulness: Being reliable. This describes a person who is trustworthy and will always stand up for God's way. We can count on, and should work at imitating, the faithfulness of God (Philippians 1:6; Hebrews 13:5).

Gentleness: Considerate and tactful in conduct and correction. Never angry at the wrong time (Matthew 5:22-24; Ephesians 4:26).

Self-Control: Discipline which gives us victory over the wrong pulls of our mind and body (I John 2:15-17).

John O. Reid (1930-2016)
Time for Self-Evaluation


 

Galatians 5:22-23

Paul names nine qualities. This divides neatly into three general groups, each consisting of three qualities. Of course, we can expect some overlapping of application between the groups, but generally the first group—love, joy, and peace—portrays a Christian's mind in its most general aspect with special emphasis on one's relationship with God. The second group—longsuffering (patience), kindness, and goodness—contains social virtues relating to our thoughts and actions toward fellow man. The final group—faithfulness (fidelity), gentleness, and self-control—reveals how a Christian should be in himself with overtones of his spiritual and moral reliability.

Each of these virtues is a quality we should greatly desire, for without them, we cannot rightly reflect the mind and way of God. The fruit of the Spirit reflects the virtues God would manifest before mankind. Indeed, when Jesus became a man, it was by his life He glorified our Father in heaven. God, of course, is far more than this brief listing describes. But seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness by yielding to His Word will produce these characteristics of God in us. Then, as we become like Christ, we will, like Him, glorify God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fruit of the Spirit


 

Galatians 5:22

Since love is a fruit, a product, of God's Holy Spirit, could its companion, joy, be produced in us differently? Like love, joy is not the product of the natural mind but the product of the supernatural Holy Spirit of God. If it is not a product of the natural mind, then pursuing it apart from the guidance of the Holy Spirit will produce only very limited and pale imitations of what God experiences by nature and greatly desires to be in us.

David writes, "You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore" (Psalm 16:11). It is interesting to compare our joy with God's continual joy and simultaneously think of what destroys joy for us. As long as we are human, joy diminishes and eventually ends. We realize this even as we experience it. I have owned several new automobiles. Each time I took a new one home, I received it with joy as if I had a new toy. But in each case I eventually acquired the same attitude toward the new car as I formerly had toward the old one. The joy was gone, and the car was again nothing more than a tool to convey me from one place to another.

No matter how secure the sources of our joy seem, we know joy does not last long. We may die; a mate or a friend who brings us joy may die; good health ceases; comforts vanish; social tragedies and natural disasters destroy loved things, properties depreciate and wear out; and our senses become dull so that we cannot see, hear, taste, feel, or smell as we once did (II Samuel 19:31-35).

The God who created everything is aware of all the human tragedies that have unfolded before His eyes over the past 6,000 years, and He still finds cause to be joyful. Our great God does not find joy in the tragedies themselves. His Word records times when He expressed regret, sorrow, or anger over the conduct of mankind, and yet He still experiences a vibrant, lasting joy. This seems to imply that His joy generally wells from different sources than mankind's. It is this joy we need to seek.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fruit of the Spirit: Joy


 

Galatians 5:22

The Greek and Hebrew definitions of the words translated as "joy" and its synonyms are virtually the same as their English counterparts, except for one whose specific definition is not "joy" but "blessed." This word, the Greek makarios, reveals much about some of the major sources of biblical joy. It frequently appears as the first word in the well-known Beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount, as in Matthew 5:3: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

Strong's defines this word as "supremely blessed; by extension fortunate, well off, blessed, happy." The King James version translates it as "happy" five times. In a marginal reference, E.W. Bullinger in the Companion Bible says the word means "happy," and J.B. Phillips translates it as such in his New Testament in Modern English.

Spiros Zodhiates' Complete Word Study Dictionary (p. 937) gives a more comprehensive definition:

Blessed, possessing the favor of God, that state of being marked by fullness from God. It indicates the state of the believer in Christ, . . . said of one who becomes a partaker of God's nature through faith in Christ. The believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirit because of Christ and as a result should be fully satisfied no matter the circumstances. Makarios differs from the word "happy" in that the person is happy who has good luck (from the root hap meaning luck as a favorable circumstance). To be makarios, blessed, is equivalent to having God's kingdom within one's heart. Aristotle contrasts makarios to endees, the needy one. Makarios is the one who is in the world yet independent of the world. His satisfaction comes from God and not from favorable circumstances.

The Amplified Bible translates Matthew 5:3 as:

Blessed (happy, to be envied, and spiritually prosperous—with life-joy and satisfaction in God's favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions) are the poor in spirit (the humble, who rate themselves insignificant), for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Verse 5 reads, "Blessed (happy, blithesome, joyous, spiritually prosperous) . . ." and verse 9, "Blessed (enjoying enviable happiness, spiritually prosperous). . . ."

It appears that for us to experience biblical joy, the fruit of God's Spirit, we need godly inner qualities that we do not possess by nature. As with love—the love that springs from us by nature that is but a pale reflection of God's love—so also is it with joy. Until we come to the point where by faith we are supremely confident of God's presence in our life—of His providence toward us in the past, present, and future—we will not experience the enduring fullness of satisfaction God wants us to have.

A Christian's joy can be just as short-lived as anyone's in the world if we are seeking it for itself as the world does. Biblical joy is a fruit, a byproduct, an additional blessing, not the end in itself. It flows into and grows within the person whose life and energies are not focused merely on being "joyful." The lives of those in this world who are so zealously chasing after it prove this point. If they are still chasing it, they must not yet have it. God's Word also substantiates this.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fruit of the Spirit: Joy


 

Galatians 5:22

Joy that is a fruit of God's Spirit has its roots in the realization of God's purpose and its outworking that transforms us into His image. Biblical joy begins when God calls, and we hear the gospel, understand, and believe it.

Biblical joy is bound up in our relationship with Him and our understanding of what is happening to our minds. We walk to the beat of a different drummer than this world because we understand God's overall purpose. We know we have been forgiven and have a place in His purpose because we now have His Spirit. No more life-changing experience can ever happen to a human than when God calls and understanding dawns. It forever alters our perspective on life itself and on the things we formerly trusted to give us satisfaction.

Henceforth our joys must arise from yielding to fulfill God's great creative purpose and seeing it accomplished. This is why we were born! Because of this, we can look forward to hearing Him say:

Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord. (Matthew 25:21)

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fruit of the Spirit: Joy


 

Galatians 5:22

What is love? Keeping the commandments (I John 5:3). Does breaking the commandments bring joy? Are people happy when someone violates them in a rape or by breaking into their homes and robbing them? No. Joy comes when people keep the commandments because there is peace. They do not have to worry about somebody breaking into their homes or knocking them over the head on the street.

Paul is so far away from telling people that the law of God is done away that one wonders how in the world people can come to that conclusion—except we understand that their human nature is causing it. They do not want to be subject to the law of God (Romans 8:7). Their carnal mind has overpowered them and enslaved them. They are in bondage to it.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 28)


 

Ephesians 5:15-20

"Joy" does not appear in this passage, but Paul's purpose is to instruct us how to produce the sustained sense of well-being that should mark a Christian's life. When a person feels good about life, about who and what he is, what he is doing with his life, and where it is headed, a sense of joy is always present. Paul's instructions are timeless in producing this.

"Walk circumspectly" indicates keeping the commandments. Paul advises us to make the most profitable use of our time, considering the state of this world. He warns us not to be foolish, and always to consider, search for, and focus upon the purpose God is working out. Then in verse 18 he makes an interesting contrast that directly involves producing the joy that should accompany the life of anyone heeding these instructions.

The verse contains a play on words. It is no accident that alcohol is associated with "Spirit." Paul's counsel is not to seek joy in the sensuous, self-centered, worldly ways that produce dissipation or debauchery, but rather to be filled with the Spirit, singing and meditating on God's Word as we give thanks in all circumstances. This formula is guaranteed to produce a sustained sense of well-being because it removes the natural self-seeking from our lives and replaces it with a God-centered way of glorifying Him. This allows joy to be the fruit, the blessing of the Almighty, rather than the direct object of our pursuit.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fruit of the Spirit: Joy


 

Ephesians 5:18

Notice what follows because Paul is pointing out activities of those who are filled with the Spirit.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Unity (Part 7): Ephesians 4 (D)


 

Hebrews 10:24-25

The New Testament stresses that Christians need the fellowship of others of like mind. An identifying mark of the true church is that the members have love for one another (John 13:35). Indeed, one of the criteria by which Christ will judge us is how we treat our brethren in the church (Matthew 25:31-46). How can we love and serve one another if we do not fellowship with and get to know each other?

God has given us ample instruction regarding how we should relate to other Christians. It is His purpose to teach us how to get along with each other so we can teach others about these things in the Millennium. We are to be unselfish and concerned for the needs of others (Philippians 2:4). God wants us to learn patience and forgiveness (Colossians 3:13), striving to be "kindly affectionate," humble, and self-effacing in our dealings with one another (Romans 12:10). We should be giving and hospitable to our brethren (verse 13).

The New Testament is replete with various admonitions on how we should interact with our brothers and sisters in the church. Obviously, God views our interaction with other Christians as vital to our training to become members of the God Family and qualifying for a position in His Kingdom. He wants us to develop interpersonal skills that equip us to deal with occasional differences of opinion and offenses.

Our fellowship should be a source of encouragement to one another. We should use this time to show love to our brethren and to motivate them to perform acts of kindness and service for others. All of these exhortations show a clear need for us to be part of an organization of God's people. God's Sabbath service is like a weekly training school for Christians. The spiritual food that God's true ministers prepare for us is vitally important for our spiritual growth and development. In discussing the relationship of the ministry to the church member, Paul explains that the ministry is given

for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:12-13)

The interaction that we have with one another when we fellowship at church services helps us to develop the fruit of God's Spirit—love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Paul shows that the church is truly Christ's body, and like the human body, each part depends upon the other parts.

Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
For the Perfecting of the Saints


 

Hebrews 12:2

Our Savior was joyful that He could do this for us, that He could buy or redeem us to be His purchased possession. Obviously, there was not a whole lot of joy in dying on the cross in the way He was crucified—none at all. It was excruciating and terrible, but there was joy in what it produced—that He had qualified to become King of kings and Lord of lords and our High Priest—the Savior of all mankind, of all those who would believe in Him.

There was joy that this step in the process of bringing the Kingdom of God to this earth had been fulfilled. There was joy in heaven that the plan of God was moving forward, and God would then have more sons and daughters. The creative process of refurbishing the entire universe had taken a great leap forward. The King had succeeded. The Savior had saved. What joy there must have been in those in the spirit realm who understood that a great milestone had been passed, making it possible for all men and women who believed to be saved.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Parables of Matthew 13 (Part 3): Hidden Treasure


 

James 1:2-4

1. Trials should produce growth. Just as we prune a shrub or tree to force it to grow into a more perfect form, so God does with us. William Barclay makes an excellent comment on this:

. . . these tests or trials are not meant to make us fall, they are meant to make us soar. They are not meant to defeat us; they are meant to be defeated. They are not meant to make us weaker; they are meant to make us stronger. Therefore we should not bemoan them; we should rejoice in them.

Notice that trials should produce growth, rather than that they will produce it. Sometimes, we just do not learn the lesson; we fail; we regress; we sink into self-pity. This leads me to another lesson learned.

2. The fruit we produce depends on our outlook. This does not imply that anger and depression are not normal human emotions. They are. With any trial, you wonder why. You evaluate your actions, your mistakes, your sins. You repent, fast, and pray. You cry out to God with more emotion than you knew you possessed. If you are normal, you have moments of anger, perhaps even doubt.

Here is where we can produce fruit or destroy it. With God's help, we must forcibly evict these carnal thoughts from our minds. We cannot allow seeds of doubt to germinate, and if they do, they cannot be allowed to grow. We must look forward and deal with the situation.

Paul writes:

. . . we know for certain that He who raised the Lord Jesus from death shall also raise us with Jesus. We shall all stand together before Him. All this is indeed working out for your benefit, for as more grace is given to more and more people so will the thanksgiving to the glory of God be increased. This is the reason why we never lose heart. The outward man does indeed suffer wear and tear, but every day the inward man receives fresh strength. These little troubles (which are really so transitory) are winning for us a permanent, glorious and solid reward out of all proportion to our pain. (II Corinthians 4:14-17, Phillips)

So it is good advice that we not resent our trials or bemoan our fate or the state in which we find ourselves. As James says, "Count it all joy," which brings us to the next lesson.

3. Joy comes after, not before, the trial—and often not during it. No sane person sits around, wishing he had a trial. That is absurd. No one is ecstatic to find himself encompassed in pain. Only when you have faced your troubles and started to fight can you begin to see even a glimmer of a positive result at its conclusion.

James' advice is to count or consider our trials joyfully. The Phillips' version continues, "Realise that they come to test your faith and to produce endurance" (James 1:3). These words reflect a passage of time. Hebrews 12:2 says Jesus endured the cross "for the joy that was set before Him." He thought nothing of the pain and shame because of the joy He knew would follow His suffering. Joy came afterward.

Verse 11 says, "Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but grievous; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it." Here is convincing proof that joy is primarily post-trial.

Yet even this joy is not the ecstatic, "Hallelujah!" kind of joy. Chara means "cheerfulness" or "calm delight." God's Spirit does not produce in us a gloating, "I did it!" kind of emotion, but a cheerful peace of mind, an awareness that we survived and grew. We feel a kind of satisfaction that God has pruned us so that we might become more like him. This process helps us to appreciate our lives more, and to be more thankful, understanding, and sympathetic to the plight of others.

A lady with a long-term illness once wrote to us about her trials. As she came slowly out of her personal struggle, she passed on to us several things that we found to be true. One line she wrote is very true: "I never realized how wonderful it is to be able to do ordinary things until I couldn't do them." She had "never realized." Yet now, because of her trial, she counted or considered her situation and found joy in a simple act.

By sharing this with us, she gave us hope and encouragement. We saw this new perspective as positive. This is fruit borne through testing. It is God's refining process at work. He is removing impurities.

As hard as it seemed, after giving them much prayer and thought, we found that each trial was specific to us. It was what we needed to make us more like God. We did not see this initially, but through perseverance and growth, it became clear.

This is why we are happy that God has chosen us to suffer whatever trials He may allow. As James goes on to write:

Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been proved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him" (James 1:12).

Mike Ford
Joy and Trial


 

Find more Bible verses about Joy:
Joy {Nave's}
Joy {Torrey's}
 




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