Reposted from a previously written post ~ October 18, 2010.
Joy. It’s one of the fruits of the spirit that we don’t seem to focus on a lot – or at least, I haven’t as much in the past as I have some of the other “fruits”. Growing up in a very conservative religious environment, we were taught, maybe not specifically, but at least given the impression that to be a Christian involved sacrifice, standing apart from the crowd, not participating in the “fun”. Which are all true to some extent, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t remember ever focusing what it meant to have the JOY of Christ, which I now believe is directly correlated to the Holy Spirit – (someone else who took a “backburner” seat in a lot of lessons on God, but that post is for another time).
I’m learning that being a Christian is not about miserably doing without the things of the world and focusing on all the things you can’t do. It’s not about feeling better about yourself because you don’t do the things that those “other people” are doing wrong, but instead it’s soaking in the joy that comes from living a Christ-filled life and accepting the forgiveness that he freely gives when we ask for him to, because we are sinners just like everyone else. It’s about working with my spouse to raise children who love God. It’s about sharing even the “gritty” parts of our lives with our Christian brothers and sisters. It’s about uplifting one another and enjoying the worship that God has called us to be involved in. It’s not a bad thing to enjoy life!
The realization of this has gradually come to me as I grow and mature and study. The word joy can be found hundreds of time in scripture. God calls us to live a joyful life. I’m the first to admit that I am not always joyful. I have issues with frustration, discontentment, and at times, anger. At least I am now, though, more aware of what to strive for, and it’s my goal to find joy in my daily walk.
“Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10
“Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” Psalm 51:12
“Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” Psalm 100:2
“And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.” Acts 13:52
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13
“You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.” I Thessalonians 1:6