Summary: We’ll identify some enemies of joy; then look at a perfect example of joy; & then consider, "How do we experience that kind of joy?"
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
CENTRAL CHRISTIAN, BROWNSVILLE, TX
A. Last week we began looking at Galatians 5:22 where Paul speaks about the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. Listen as I read it once again. Paul says, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness & self-control."
Now the very first "fruit" that Paul mentions is love. And as we considered it, we realized that we live in a world that talks a lot about & glorifies the subject of love, but too often real love is missing. As a result, people are looking for love in all the wrong places. So the church needs to become a beacon & an oasis of love in a love-starved world.
B. Now the next "fruit of the Spirit" that Paul mentions is joy. And I ask you, "Do you have that joy?" It’s obvious that many people don’t. And you’ve been around them, haven’t you? They’re grumps, they’re gripers, they’re very negative about virtually everything that happens in life, complaining almost all the time. As a result, they just aren’t much fun to be around.
ILL. One of my favorite stories about a person with a grumpy personality begins with a man going into the doctor’s office. As he walked in, he was met by the receptionist. He told her that he had a sore on his chin that he wanted the doctor to examine.
She said to him, "Down the hall, first door to the right, & take off your clothes." "But ma’am," he said, "it’s just a sore on my chin. I don’t think all that is necessary." She repeated, "Down the hall, first door to the right, & take off your clothes." "But ma’am," he said. "Down the hall, first door to the right, & take off your clothes."
So he went down the hall, took the first door to the right, walked in & saw another man already sitting there in his boxer shorts, shivering. He said to him, "Boy, that receptionist is really something, isn’t she? I just have a little sore on my chin & she told me to come down here, go through this door & take off my clothes." The man in the boxer shorts said, "You think that’s bad? I’m the UPS delivery man."
SUM. There are some difficult people, aren’t there? And what they need is a personality transplant.
C. Let me give you a definition of "joy." "Joy is an evidence of the presence of God in your life." If God is in your life, if you are filled with the Spirit of God, then this fruit of the Spirit will be obvious in your life.
Now don’t mistake happiness for joy. It’s easy to do that. The Bible mentions "joy" or "rejoicing" 330 times. But it only mentions "happiness" 26 times. Happiness depends upon what happens to you. So if all the circumstances are right, then you can be happy. But joy comes from inside.
PROP. This morning we’re going to identify some enemies of joy. Then we’ll look at a perfect example of joy, & finally, consider the question, "How do we experience that kind of joy?" Now, what are some enemies of joy?
I. SOME ENEMIES OF JOY
A. Sometimes we’re robbed of joy by the differences between generations. There have always been generation gaps, but it seems to me that generation gaps are more obvious now than they’ve ever been before.
ILL. Now, I can’t use myself as an example because, as most of you know, my parents were missionaries & I spent the first few years of my life living in China. Then we were separated, & my parents spent most of WW2 in a Japanese prison camp. So my childhood memories are not the same as most others.
But listen to what a friend of mine remembers about his childhood. He says, "I grew up in a home overshadowed by worry. Our country had come through a world war & a depression, & now was engaged in a second world war. My father was busy working two 8-hour shifts at the factory, building heavy equipment to help our boys win the war. My uncle was in the marine corps & we talked in hushed tones, wondering if he would return home alive.
"There wasn’t much laughter in our house. And when you went to church, that was a pretty somber time, too. There was a lot of reverence & prayer & deep concern, but not a lot of laughter. And those of us who are older grew up in that kind of environment."
But times have changed. And if you just looked at circumstances you would think that we would be the happiest people in the world because we’re richer than any other generation, & our quality of life is better than ever before. We ought to be extremely happy. We’re not, but we ought to be.