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Picture in your mind one of the most enjoyable walks you have ever taken. What made it so enjoyable? Was it the location? Was it the weather or the time of day? Or, was it the one who was walking beside you?
Throughout the Bible, our lives are referred to as a “walk” although some days you may feel like yours is a sprint. Am I right? Though you may feel like you are sprinting, your whole life experience is considered a walk.
And, those who place their faith in Christ are living a “faith walk.” But, here’s the catch: a lifetime faith walk must be walked daily. Choices are made daily, weekly, and yearly to follow pathways that lead you to a joyful walk (the kind that you pictured in your mind) or to one that is frustrating and disappointing. Along life’s journey, you have to know how to choose the walk that will lead you to find joy.
What Is Joy?
When you read or hear the word “joy,” what comes to mind?
Most people define joy as a feeling of happiness when you’re smiling and laughing a lot. And, they think that happiness comes from “good happenings.” Good happenings mean everything is going your way, turning out right. You have lots of money. You’re healthy. You’re very successful in work or school. Right?
But, what happens if those external things are not so good? Your family is stressed financially. You may be struggling in work or school. Your relationships are fraying. You or someone close to you is very sick. Happiness kinda disappears then.
It’s very hard to have a joyful walk if that’s your definition of joy. But, for believers in Jesus Christ, we have access to a different kind of joy that is internal. We call it biblical joy.
- Biblical joy refers to having a deep inner gladness, regardless of the circumstances going on around you. That means whether you are rich or poor, sick or healthy, successful or struggling, you can still have a feeling of gladness or pleasure deep down inside.
- Biblical joy is supernatural. It is inseparable from the character of God and comes only from a relationship with Him.
- Biblical joy is a fruit of the Spirit of Jesus living in us. That means joy is available to every believer. Someone described it as “Juice of the Spirit” because it flows out of us even when we are squeezed.
- Biblical joy is a deep abiding peace and sense of contentment and strength. Now, you may not feel like smiling on the outside, but you can still smile on the inside. Have you ever felt that way? Although, you can do both at the same time.
Joy is in God’s character.
As I said before, this kind of joy that I am describing is supernatural.
Nehemiah 8:10 says, “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” You see, joy is part of the character of God. Have you ever thought about joy being part of God’s character?
- God has joy whenever anyone comes to Him to have his or her sins forgiven by faith in His Son Jesus. The Bible describes lots of rejoicing in heaven at that time.
- God has pleasure in His creation. We see that in Job and in Psalms a lot. After the 6 days of creation, God declared His creation was very good. He wasn’t only giving His approval but was also revealing His pleasure. The Father God has joy in what His hands have made, especially His creatures. That includes you. You are one of His creatures. Does that make you smile inside to think that God finds pleasure in you?
- God expresses His joy. In the small Old Testament book of Zephaniah, the writer declared to anyone who would return to God and trust in Him these words,
The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17)
There’s that truth about God taking delight in you again. Great delight. But, have you ever thought about God rejoicing over you through singing? In His love for you, God rejoices over you with singing. He takes delight in you because you trust in Him.
Joy is something that God has. And, God chooses to give us His joy.
God gives us His joy.
A sense of joy pervades the Bible. Have you noticed that? In the Old Testament, joy is seen in worshiping and praising God. It’s seen as the enthusiastic response of the worshiping community. It’s seen as the people celebrate who God is and what He has done for them in the past. It’s rooted in hope and confidence of what He will do in the future. And, a relationship with God is the key.
What about the New Testament? Over and over in the book of Acts as the gospel is taken to the people and received by the people, their salvation brought an overflow of joy. There must be a connection between the good news of knowing Jesus and experiencing true joy. There is!
God’s joy comes to us from a relationship with Him through knowing Jesus Christ. Jesus, who was God, had God’s joy in Him. In John 15:11, Jesus promised to give His joy to His disciples so that it would be in them, also. Not just a little bit but fullness of joy. Lots of it!
And, Jesus didn’t promise joy just to those who knew Him when He was on earth. I love what Peter says in his letter—1 Peter 1:8:
“You have not seen him, but you love him. You do not see him now but you believe in him, and so you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy,” (1 Peter 1:8)
“Though you have not seen Him.” That’s us today. You and I have not seen Him physically on this earth. But, the moment you believe in Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit comes to live inside of you. And, He gives you God’s glorious, uncontainable joy.
“Joy is not the absence of trouble, but the presence of Christ.” (William Vander Haven)
Joy is most often linked in the New Testament with God’s work in fellow believers whom we love and whom we serve. Several times in Philippians (as with his other letters), Paul says that the recipients are his “joy” or that he considers it a “joy” to pray for them. He rejoices in serving them and in them serving him and each other. Joy in knowing Jesus is contagious. It wells up within us and motivates us to serve others in love.
Even those who don’t know Jesus can know happiness as they find it in the good things that God has given to all human beings so generously. But, the Christian knows a heightened joy that is rooted in the bond that exists between the believer and the Lord and the bond that exists with other believers whom we have come to love. The deeper our relationship with Jesus and with His people the greater the joy that awaits us and the less that joy is dependent on external circumstances.
Do you know Jesus? If you don’t, then you can never know true joy. He is worth getting to know. You can trust Him with your heart and your life. Please tell Him that you want to do that today.
Do you know Him but feel like you have lost the joy? Draw closer to Him and get to know Him better so He can give you full joy.
The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said scornfully about Christians of his day, “I would believe in their salvation if they looked a little more like people who have been saved.” Yikes!
Jesus paid for your sins on the cross so you could have eternal life and have it more abundantly. That truth is enough to rejoice in the Lord regardless of anything going on in your life. But, knowing Christ more and more will increase your joy. We as Christians should be living a life of celebration!
G.K. Chesterton said, “Joy is the gigantic secret of the Christian.” But, it’s no secret because you can know Jesus and know joy. That will lead to a joyful walk.
Know Jesus and Know Joy.
I’ve had some sad days in the past month. Grief has been ever present. Every day, when I wake up, I have to choose to live joyfully that day. My joy is from the Lord and in the Lord. Without His joy, the sorrow would be overwhelming.
What about you? Want to have joy in your life? Find it through your relationship with Jesus Christ. He is the one who promises to complete His work in you. The one who gave Himself up for you on the cross. The one who gives you the motivation and the power to serve Him with joy. The one who strengthens you in every circumstance. The one who causes you to be content. The one who supplies your every need from His glorious riches. The one whom you can know well. The one who longs to produce joy in your life.
The deeper your relationship with Jesus and with His people, the greater the joy that awaits you. And, the less your joy is dependent on external circumstances.
Get to know Jesus and the joy He offers you through reading and studying the New Testament writings, especially the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) and the book of Philippians. Find the true joy that you are seeking.