Many people regard Christians as “killjoys” and sadly, some people live in such a way that the Christian life seems to have little joy. There is no worse advert for the Gospel than long-faced, miserable Christians who live a joyless compliance to religious rules. This is not the Bible picture of the Christian life.
The Bible says that the fruit of the Holy Spirit in a person’s life is joy, and portrays God’s people as a people of joy.
The great tennis player, Boris Becker, once said, “I have won Wimbledon twice before, once as the youngest player. I was rich, I had all the material possessions I needed – money, cars, women, everything. I know that this is a cliché; it’s the old song of the movie and pop stars who commit suicide. They have everything and yet they are so unhappy. I had no inner peace. I was a puppet on a string.” It is good to be successful and there is nothing wrong with possessions but joy is not dependent on these things. Joy is all about relationship, both with God and with friends.
Jesus spoke about His joy in the context of relationship with God. Because Jesus loved His Father He obeyed Him and as a result experienced great joy. He then commands us to live in the same relationship with Him so that His joy may be in us and our joy may be complete [John 15:10-11]. From these two verses we learn that joy is directly related to our relationship with God, and that the deeper that relationship goes, the more complete our joy becomes.
King David experienced tremendous joy in his relationship with God and it was his delight to do God’s will. When his relationship with God was damaged because of sin, he cried out to God in repentance. He was desperate that God would not take away from him the Holy Spirit but would restore to him the joy of salvation. The presence of the Holy Spirit within us is the basis of joy. Paul affirmed this when he said that the kingdom of God is “righteousness, and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” [Romans 14:17]. The more the Holy Spirit dwells in us, the more we will be filled with joy. It is all about relationship and not just happenings.
What do you think is the greatest hindrance to being filled with the joy of the Lord?
Have you ever experienced what David experienced, having known the joy of the Lord and then losing it and needing to ask God to restore it? If so how did He restore His joy in your life?
Why do you think that joy is so often a missing element in the lives of God’s people? How important do you think it is? Why?