The second fruit of the Spirit is joy. Joy is in the same family of Greek words as grace. This means to me that because we are saved by the underserved grace of God, the joy we experience is non-circumstantial. This does not mean that we are outwardly happy about our circumstances all the time, nor does it mean that we have to walk around with a fake smile. The joy is a constant reminder that regardless of what happens to us in life, our relationship with God should remain strong.
Jesus said in John 15 that our relationship to Him is compared to that of a vine and the vinedresser. He said in Verse 4: “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.” In Verse 8, He said: “By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, so that you will be My disciples.” I hope you see the connection between our bearing fruit and being in a relationship with Jesus.
In Verse 10 Jesus said: “If you keep My commandments (remember that we are in a relationship of obedience to Christ as fruit-bearers) you will abide in My love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in His love.” Then in Verse 11 Jesus said: “These things I have spoken to you (the things He has spoken to us concern our relationship to Him as the vine) that My joy may remain in you, that your joy may be full.” Again what is the basis of the joy? A living, vibrant relationship with Christ.
In Romans 12:15 Paul said: “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” If we look at the first part of the verse, he is saying that we rejoice in other’s success. We rejoice even if our team gets defeated and even rejoice when someone gets what we feel they don’t deserve. None of this is easy; however, our joy is secure in the grace of Christ.
In Matthew 5:11, 12, Jesus said: “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
The words be glad mean to be exceedingly glad. The literal meaning is to skip and jump with happy excitement. Jesus used the imperative mood, which makes His words more than a suggestion. We are commanded to be glad. How so? Do you remember the story of the three Hebrew young men who were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace? Their names were Hananiah, Mishsael, and Azariah, whom the king named Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Three men! But when the king looked into the furnace, he said:
“Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the furnace?… Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” (Daniel 3:24, 25). In the same way Jesus Christ is near to those who are persecuted for His sake and they can have great joy in this knowledge.
The world can take a lot of things away from us as Christian people but it cannot deprive us of our joy and our happiness. Nothing in this world is permanent but our reward in heaven is.
One final thought. We serve and obey a living Lord just as on earth He loved and obeyed His Father because He loved Him. It was also because of the
“joy set before Him” that Christ Himself “endured the cross, despising the shame”. (Hebrews 12:2) The Lord’s joy was in dying for us. Our joy is in living for Him.
See you Sunday.