Choose Joy: The Second Fruit of the Spirit

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The law is not against such things.”

Galatians 5:22-23

Hey guys! Welcome back to my “Fruit of the Spirit” post series! If you missed last week’s post about love, you can check it out here! But today, we will be focusing on the second fruit of joy and diving deeper into what it means to have this fruit in our lives.

What is joy?

Google defines joy as “a feeling of great pleasure and happiness.” But the Bible reveals that joy is actually much deeper than that. I believe that joy is beyond a feeling or an emotion because, let’s be honest: those change like the wind. I believe that joy is a choice. It’s an attitude towards life that doesn’t change even when our circumstances do.

Where do we find it?

Pure joy can only be found in the One we were created to desire. We may enjoy ice cream, a good book, our friends, or even a puppy. But none of those things can satisfy like Jesus can. We’re told in Luke 2:10 that His birth brought joy to the world:

“But the angel said to them, ‘Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all people:'”

Jesus Himself said in John 15:11, “I have told you these things so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.”

What are “these things” that He is talking about here? Well, in the verses preceding number eleven in this passage, He says: “As the Father has loved me, I have also loved you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commands you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.”

Our joy comes from being in communion with the Father and obeying His commands. It comes from choosing to remain, or abide, in Him. It comes from His great love.

Ice cream will melt or get eaten, books are eventually turned to the last page, friends may come and go, and even our loyal dogs will leave us. But the love of our God endures forever. If His love is our source of joy, then we shall be filled to overflowing for as long as we live.

Unceasing joy is possible because, as Christians, our joy is found in Jesus Christ, and He is the same “yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)

Why does this joy matter?

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I just feel like being sad. It’s often easier to throw a pity party for ourselves than to be joyful because it’s more natural. The truth is, bad things happen in life and we don’t always feel like we’re on cloud nine. Yet, we are still called to rejoice.

The Apostle Paul says in his letter to the Philippians, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4) It must be important if he commands it twice in a row! And the incredible thing is, it is believed that he wrote this letter while he was in prison. He didn’t let his circumstances dictate his joy–he found joy in the Lord even when he had every human right to be angry, bitter, upset, and disappointed.

As Christians, our joy should have nothing to do with our circumstances, but everything to do with our hope in our Savior

There’s a verse in the NIV translation of the Bible that says “the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). Joy is not a weakness; it is a strength. And just as we look at the life of Paul, marveling at how he could be so joyful in the midst of his suffering, so too will the world marvel at us when they see our joy. Our joy will increase our influence and testimony as Christians.

Our joy matters because our salvation matters. It is important because our calling is important. It is significant because our God is significant.

What does it mean to choose joy?

Like I said before, joy is a choice. Jesus never forces anything upon us because He created us with free will. However, why would we not choose joy when it is so available to us? We wouldn’t choose to eat a mud pie when there’s a chocolate cake within our reach, would we?

In their song, “Smile,” Sidewalk Prophets puts it this way:

You can laugh or you can cry
When it all falls apart
But I believe the more you laugh
The more you heal the heart

There’s always a reason
To always choose joy
There’s something deeper
That the world can’t destroy

If you are a genuine, Spirit-led believer, joy should be a part of your every day because the world cannot destroy it! That doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to be sad, or that any emotion other than happiness is bad. But the joy of the Spirit is a deep-rooted and crucial part of a Christian’s life. If you are struggling to choose joy, just ask Jesus to help you and He will.

James 1:2-3 says, “Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.”

May we be able to sing along with for KING & COUNTRY: “The time has come to make a choice, and I choose joy.”

Make it real

As I’m writing these posts on the fruit of the Spirit, I’m working toward being intentional and making sure that they are true of me. After last week’s post, I noticed the word “love” in the Bible more than I normally would. And I caught myself for doing things with other motives more than a time or two.

Just last night (Tuesday), my family had a fire in our new fire pit and I came inside covered in mosquito bites. I was so quick to complain about it, rather than being thankful that I had had a good night. I caught myself afterwards and thought, “Wow. Choosing joy is really hard.”

The truth is, it is hard. We live in a fallen world where sin seems to win the day. And nowadays it might feel like the virus has killed every last bit of joy we had. But I would like to remind us that the world cannot take what the world did not give.

Our joy as Christians is not of this world. It’s found in Jesus.

So yes, it is hard. And yes, it takes some work to change our thinking. But just like with love, I believe that we can start small and watch the fruit grow.

Choosing joy today could mean a lot of small things. I challenge you (and myself) to be on the lookout for opportunities to be joyful rather than bitter today.

In what situations can we intentionally choose joy today?

If you are interested to know more about joy in the Bible, you can check out this video by The Bible Project.

That’s all for now, but join me next week for a closer look at the third fruit of the Spirit: peace. I hope to see y’all then!

Always His,