Being joyous is not walking around with a big grin permanently fixed on our face. Neither does it mean possessing an upbeat positive temperament, nor exhibiting a bubbly and excited appearance before others. Rather, I am referring to real joy, which is an inner experience. Do you have that heartfelt joy in your life?
We are Created and Redeemed to Rejoice
If we are Christians, then we should know that joy is our inheritance promised by our Saviour and Lord. It is God’s desire that we should be joyful people. He didn’t create us to be wretched and miserable, but holy and happy. In fact, joy was one of the things that characterised the original creation. In Job 38:7, God challenged Job as to whether he had any memory of the “morning stars” that sang together and all the “sons of God” that shouted for joy at His creation. We can assuredly say that Adam and Eve were full of joy as they lived in the sinless garden of Eden, which was very good prior to their fall.
Of course, sin had smashed the experience of man’s joy and brought in disappointment, fear, sorrow, guilt, condemnation and death, but God’s work of redemption through Jesus Christ has reinstated that joy and taken it to even greater heights. This joy doesn’t belong merely to the in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement” (Romans 5:11).
In All Circumstances, Joy is to be Ours
Writing from the seclusion and afflictions of his imprisonment in Rome, Paul exhorted the Philippian Christians, “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice” (Philippians 4:4). Paul did not teach that we would only “catch” tantalizing tastes of joy when we are singing our favourite hymns on a Sunday morning. Rather, Christian joy is to be always present in our lives, regardless of our circumstances.
Joy is to be a Christian’s normal experience. It is not meant for our occasional pleasure. Paul instructs us in 1 Thessalonians 5:16 to “Rejoice evermore.” The New Testament writers, James and Peter, also join Paul in assuring us that we can be joyous even when trials come our way — “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations” (James 1:2); “But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings” (1 Peter 4:13).
Source of Our Joy is the Lord
The Bible instructs us to find joy in the Lord and in all that He has done for us. There are, of course, many legitimate sources of joy in our lives. God has given us richly all things to enjoy (1 Timothy 6:17). Undeniably, there are immense joys associated with families and friends, with good health and personal freedom, with holidays and hobbies, with successes and victories; these joys are, to be sure, real and precious. However, if the joy of our life is resting on these, then
it is on fragile foundations. That joy can be shaken by crises in life like illness, bereavement, redundancy and accidents!
That is why the Bible fixes our joy on the unchanging God. Isn’t this what the prophet Habakkuk emphatically pointed out to us in the Old Testament? “Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I future; we should be shouting for joy now! Paul reminded the Roman Christians that “we also joy will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation” (Habakkuk 3:17-18).
Boundless Joy is Promised!
In John 15:11, Jesus said concerning the purpose of His words that “your joy might be full.” Peter says that Christians can have “joy unspeakable and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8).
God holds out full joy to us always! Perhaps some of us are falling somewhat short of the joy that God has offered to us. Each of us needs to examine himself as to whether his joy is complete.
Means to Appropriate the Divine Gift of Joy
- Remember that our names are written in heaven. Jesus said, “But rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20).
- Learn and obey God’s Word. Jesus said, “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full” (John 15:11, cf. 1 John 1:4).
- Believe / Depend on the Lord at all times. “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost” (Romans 15:13; cf. 1 Peter 1:8).
- Be filled with the Holy Spirit. When we yield to the Spirit’s leading, we will be filled with spiritual joy. Acts 13:52 tells us that “the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost.”
- Look forward to the great joy and glory at the return of Christ. 1 Peter 4:13 reminds us, “But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy” (cf. Matthew 5:12).