Today I am looking at joy. It is the second in the list of the fruit’s of the Spirit. I desire to know the joy of the Lord. But it is also something which I need to understand. It is one of those words where I equate joy with happiness. Is this truly what joy is?
Websters defines joy as:
1 a : the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires : delight
b : the expression or exhibition of such emotion : gaiety
2: a state of happiness or felicity : bliss
3: a source or cause of delight
One of the things I like to research is Websters 1828 edition. The intention of word’s in translation get lost over time. Meanings also change with time. The original definition is as follows:
1. The passion or emotion excited by the acquisition or expectation of good; that excitement of pleasurable feelings which is caused by success, good fortune, the gratification of desire or some good possessed, or by a rational prospect of possessing what we love or desire; gladness; exultation; exhilaration of spirits.
JOY is a delight of the mind, from the consideration of the present or assured approaching possession of a good.
Bring heavenly balm to heal my country’s wounds,
JOY to my soul and transport to my lay.
2. Gayety; mirth; festivity.
The roofs with joy resound.
3. Happiness; felicity.
Her heavenly form beheld, all wished her joy
4. A glorious and triumphant state.
–Who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross. Hebrews 12:2.
5. The cause of joy or happiness.
For ye are our glory and joy1 Thessalonians 2:19.
6. A term of fondness; the cause of you.
JOY, verb intransitive To rejoice; to be glad; to exult.
I will joy in the God of my salvation. Habakkuk 3:18.
JOY, verb transitive To give joy to; to congratulate; to entertain kindly.
1. To gladden; to exhilarate.
My soul was joyed in vain.
2. To enjoy; to have or possess with pleasure, or to have pleasure in the possession of. [Little used. See Enjoy.]
It amazes me to see how much was originally said about joy and today how it is reduced to an emotion or state of being. If joy is a fruit of the Spirit, as the Word of God says. Then there is a source to our joy. There is an expectation that comes with the promises of God. In Greek the word for joy is chara. Strong’s defines chara as joy, gladness, a source of joy. To dig a little further Help’s expounds on that:
Cognate: 5479xará (another feminine noun from the root xar-, “extend favor, lean towards, be favorably disposed”) – properly, the awareness (of God’s) grace, favor; joy (“grace recognized”).
Joy is not a state of being. It is a state of mind. Joy is a delight of the mind, from the consideration of the present or assured approaching possession of a good. It is not the acquisition of something that makes me happy. It is the realization of the promise God and awareness of the grace and favor He extends towards His rebellious creation.
In mans attempt to be autonomous, we seek to be the authors of these things within us. We try to be the source of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. But what happens when situations change in my life and that source is disrupted? We are not created to be autonomous, but rather to look to our Creator as the source of all things. He has given us His Word and in Christ He has shown us what these things look like.
As I was praying this morning, God gave me a verse. Hebrews 12:2 which states:
“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.”
If you didn’t already notice that verse was referenced in Websters original definition. Was Jesus happy about the cross set before Him? It was the assurance of the Father. It was bringing to realization God’s mercy and grace upon us. He was going back to the Father and making the way for us back to the Father as well. You see joy is a state of mind, which realizes that God loves us. That despite our attempts to remain autonomous and our repeated rebellion against Him, which He calls sin, He extends mercy to us through the cross. Why the cross? Because sin is offensive to God. And as it is an offense, their must be consequence. Justice is part of God’s nature as well.
Isn’t that what the good news of Jesus Christ is about? That God, through Christ has restored us. That is amazing grace. We look away from God and He fixes His eyes upon us. Today look to the cross. Realize the joy that can be had not from the suffering of our Lord and savior but from the awareness that we have promise to hold onto. The promises of God made available to us in our redemption found at the foot of the cross.
Father, today I simply ask for Joy. The awareness of your goodness. Show us today and let us not look upon ourselves and the reality of our filthiness, without being fully aware of Your goodness. That we, sinners in the hand’s of a just and holy God have also been redeemed by a merciful and good God. That is amazing grace, and should fill us with joy. In Jesus name, amen.
God bless you,