the fruit of the spirit: choosing joy
Galatians 5:22- But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things, there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking, and envying each other.
The Fruit of the Spirit: Joy
When were you the happiest you've ever been? For some people, their happiest moment was their wedding. For others, it was the birth of their child. For me, it was the day I got my first "real" job after graduating from college. There are many events in our lives that we give credit to as the source of our happiness. But was it really the event itself that brought on the brighter mood?
The world really likes to try and convince us of what true happiness is supposed to look like. Often, we are told that happiness has a price tag. Buy this new car. purchase that designer dress, invest in a new house. We don't just seek after things in life because of the thing itself- instead, we are chasing after the feelings attached to it. It feels good to drive around in a new car. It feels rewarding to be noticed in a brand-name outfit. It feels accomplished to invite guests over to your new home.
As someone who works in a sales-related career, I have caught on very quickly that the best way to "sell" something to a person has nothing to do with the product itself. Instead, it has to do with what the product can do for the client. Successful salesmen are client-focused. They know how to satisfy their clients' cravings for success, happiness, contentment, or joy. Yet no matter how good you are at selling, I've also recognized that there is only so much you can do. At the end of the day, a happy customer is happy because they choose to be. They have decided that what you are offering them is reason for them to brighten their mood.
You see, joy is actually a choice.
Joy cannot be forced onto you. It can't be acquired by a friend or relative on your behalf. It can't be purchased. It can't be sold. You can't even really fake joy... you either have it or you don't. It is for this reason that all the celebrities and wealthy business of the world continue chasing after things. They are still looking for their happiness- yet they are often looking in all the wrong places.
It is not just the rich and wealthy who do this- the average citizen does it as well. We tell ourselves that if we just accomplish this or that we will finally experience joy in its purest form. Yet somehow with every met goal, our joy still seems just out of reach. How do we solve such a dilemma? We must look to the Bible for some inspiration:
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)
How can my problems possibly cause me to be joyful? Well... they can't really cause you to be anything without your consent. Feeling upset, sad, or discouraged is just as much of a choice as deciding to be happy is. ,
Now don't get me wrong- I think it is perfectly reasonable, natural, and healthy even to experience an array of emotions day by day. But we also must realize that we can gain control of our feelings rather than continually fall victim to them. We can take a few hours, days, or even weeks if so desired to feel gloomy- but at some point, we have to say, "enough with this! I want to see the sunshine again!"
Jesus is our Joy. Jesus promises that if we choose joy He will help us experience it:
For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. (Isaiah 55:12)
Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2)
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)
It is God's desire for us to have joy in our lives. While we are on earth, there will always be sadness and pain. Yet we are still gifted with the ability to transform our attitudes.
Here is a really powerful quote I read once, in an extremely compelling book written by a Holocaust survivor:
“There's a long road of suffering ahead of you. But don't lose courage. You've already escaped the gravest danger: selection. So now, muster your strength, and don't lose heart. We shall all see the day of liberation. Have faith in life. Above all else, have faith. Drive out despair, and you will keep death away from yourselves. Hell is not for eternity. And now, a prayer - or rather, a piece of advice: let there be comradeship among you. We are all brothers, and we are all suffering the same fate. The same smoke floats over all our heads. Help one another. It is the only way to survive.”
― Elie Wiesel, Night