Summary: Examine the second fruit of the spirit in our series. JOY.
The Fruit of the Spirit
Part 3 – joy
Rev. Bruce A. Shields
First Baptist Church Tawas City Michigan
John 15:11 – Jesus Speaking
“These things have I spoken unto you, that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.”
This morning we’re going to take a look into the Spiritual Fruit called “joy” as we continue in our series based on the Fruits of the Spirit as found in Galatians 5:22-23.
It’s safe to say that joy is one of the most elusive fruits for us as believers.
It’s not a very popular fruit and doesn’t get near enough use today.
Part of the problem is that joy is often misunderstood.
We tend to equate “happiness” with joy, but they are two totally different ideas because they each spring from a different source.
One comes from the world around us.
The other originates directly from the Spirit of the Living God.
Happiness is conditioned by and often dependent upon what is “happening” to us. If people treat us well, if things are going well in our lives, then we’re happy.
If our circumstances aren’t favorable, then we’re unhappy.
Joy, on the other hand, we see throughout Scripture as a profound, compelling quality of life that transcends the events and disasters which may attack God’s people.
Joy is a divine dimension of living that is not shackled by circumstances.
The Hebrew word means, “to leap or spin around with pleasure.”
In the New Testament the word refers to “gladness, bliss and celebration.”
To have the fruit of joy ripen in our lives is to recognize the journey involved in getting there. It takes time, diligence, patience, and hard work to make a grapevine produce grapes.
Fruit is not instantaneous because it has to overcome weather, bugs, weeds, poor soil and neglect.
Likewise, in our journey to joy we’re faced with the waves of indifference, the currents of negativity, the deluge of doubt and the pitfalls of despair.
There is no way we can manufacture this fruit on our own.
If we want to see this fruit ripen in our lives, we desperately need the Holy Spirit to prune away whatever it is that hinders our joy and then empower us to make some choices that move us closer to a lifestyle of rejoicing.
We need to guard ourselves against common Joy Busters.
These joy busters are like weeds, or bugs which attack and can keep our fruit from producing and ripening.
Before Paul wrote to the church at Galatia about the Fruit of the Spirit, he asked a very important question in Galatians 4:15: “What has happened to all your joy…”
That question needs to be asked in the church today. What has happened to all my joy? What has happened to all your joy?
William Barclay, a popular Scottish theologian who died in 1978, has said that “a gloomy Christian is a contradiction in terms, and nothing in all religious history has done Christianity more harm than its connection with black clothing and long faces.”
Let’s look at a few common joy stealers that often give us long faces.
1. (Joy Stealer) Unsatisfied expectations.
Do you ever feel like you’re just going through some joyless routines in life?
If the truth were known, some of us are discontent with the way our lives are progressing.
It could be that your expectations for your marriage have not been met. Or, maybe your kids aren’t living like they should.
Perhaps you don’t have everything you want – a bigger house, a nicer car, and a better job.
I’m convinced that a spirit of discontentment can rob many of us of joy.
Listen to how Paul discovered the secret of being content with what God had given him in Philippians 4:12: “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”
I find it interesting to note that Paul calls contentment a “secret.”
There’s a mystery about it. He also had to “learn” how to live with unsatisfied expectations. Likewise, we must learn to live with plenty or with little.
Contentment doesn’t come when we have everything we want but when we are satisfied with everything we have.
2. (Joy Stealer) Unresolved conflict.
Our joy evaporates when we allow conflict between ourselves and another person to go on. When offenses between us occupy our mental and emotional attention, we have little left over for the Lord.
Anger clouds the eyes of our heart and obscures our view of God, draining away our joy.
Hebrews 12:14-15 challenges us to not allow relational ruptures to fester because bitterness can set in: “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”