Galatians 5:22-23: The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Remember that the New Testament was mainly written in Greek. We 'll thus take a look at the Greek words as well as the Hebrew words for the applicable fruit of the week.
Greek Word: χαρά (Transliterated: chara / kharah)
Hebrew Word: גיל (Transliterated: gil)
The Greek word chara (χαρά ) means cheerfulness, calm delight; gladness, greatly, exceeding, joy(-ful, -fully, -fulness, -ous).
The Hebrew word gil (גיל) means joy, gladness, the joy received from you, the cause or occasion of joy, of persons who are one' s joy.
The first time the word "gil" is used in the Bible was in Job 3:22. How profound! In one of the books of the Bible that’s considered one of (if not the) most morbid books in the Bible – we read for the first time about the word joy in the same context as it was used in the Scripture about the fruit of the Spirit. This is most definitely not a coincidence. And in itself it reveals so much to us about true joy.
"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
We - with our fleshly understanding of “joy” - miss out on so much richness of the full picture. The worldly definition of “joy” is “ a feeling of great pleasure/gladness and happiness.”
On surface level, it sounds all good. But the problem is gladness and happiness are based on our circumstances. And that type of joy will not be consistent or everlasting.
Worldly joy is based on our physical circumstances – the things we hear, see, feel, experience, etc. But the joy we read about in Galatians is based on our spiritual circumstances. It’s not only focused on the here and the now, but also on the eternal circumstances. When we look around us, it’s easy to agree that we live in rather a joyless world. We see so many hardships and sorrow all around us. Everyone is always chasing the next best thing, in an attempt to find joy / happiness.
In Psalm 100:1-2 we read “Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth. Serve the Lord with gladness and delight; Come before His presence with joyful singing.” Remember that the Garden of Eden means “place of delight / paradise.”
In the same way we should experience joy because we are in a place of delight – not necessarily physically but spiritually. The joy we read about in Psalm 100 isn’t something that goes by unnoticed. We as Bible believing Christians should be shouting for joy regardless how dim our circumstances look!
The more we spend time with Yeshua and allow Him to cultivate the fruit of the Spirit within us, the more we will experience His promises and start to see the world from His perspective. Remember that we said the fruit of the Spirit does not come naturally to us. So it should come as no surprise to us that the world would try it’s very best to create that feeling. Everyone is chasing it and scientists try to put it into a pill – to simulate the feeling. Joy numbs pain and makes things bearable.
All through out the Bible we read how the angels praise God with songs and praise. Never once we read that they praise Him with groans or praise Him because they feel obliged to. They do it with joy & delight! True joy is being connected with reality but also knowing the character of God in your reality. When we cultivate the fruit of Joy, our joy is rooted in our identity which we find in Him and not rooted in the circumstances we face.
The closer we grow in our walk with Yeshua, the more joy we will experience. We need to learn about God's nature and character and get into true relationship with Him. He wants covenant with you. It’ s great to read blogs like these where someone shares their view / revelations about certain topics… But nothing can ever come close to the joy of experiencing covenant with Yeshua for yourself.
Regardless of the chaos we face in the world, if we cultivate living from a place of “let Your Kingdom come & Your will be done” – THAT’ s where we will find true joy! The more we rest (shabbat) in Him, the more we will taste and experience His Hand in every aspect of our lives.
The opposite of joy isn’t necessarily sadness or grief. Joy isn’t the absence of grief either. In the world’ s understanding of joy – yes, sure. But the fruit of Joy is found in Yeshua – even when we are in the worst circumstances. When our joy is found in Yeshua – we will be able to hold onto truth in the worst of times. It does by no means mean that we have to be chirpy, cheerful and joking everyday of our lives. Most certainly not. Things in life will often happen which will rock your boat. The Bible doesn’t belittle pain. If it did, the book of Lamentations would not have been part of the Bible. Nor Job. And remember Job was the very book in which we read about JOY for the very first time in the Bible.
Cultivating the fruit of Joy does NOT mean that we ’ll never experience sadness or that it’ s wrong to experience hurt or pain. We are human. If we were not supposed to feel those feelings – God would have created us without those feelings. Having the fruit of Joy does however mean that we remain rooted – knowing that despite the feelings you experience now, you will also experience happiness again. You will be fine again even though you might not be fine in the moment.
In the Fruit of Love blog post we mentioned the Scripture “weep for those who weep.” When our circumstances are tough, you need the fellowship with others more than ever. And what does the enemy do? When we face hardships and pain, the world taught us to shut others out and grief on our own. That doesn’t only isolate you, but it also narrows your vision. Causing you to focus more on that pain and grief you experience and fall into an even deeper pit. I’m not saying you should ignore your feelings and face the world as if you’re not going through a though time. But staying in fellowship with like-minded believers will help you to live with the bigger picture in mind. Living in the bigger picture gives hope!
In Hebrews 12:2 we read “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.” Some translations say “for the joy set before Him, He endured. Knowing that the pain will produce a harvest.” The fruit of joy is all about living with the bigger picture in mind. It means that even though you might be facing tough circumstances now, you can have hope and overcome it – because your focus is on the bigger picture.
True joy is the ability to look back with thankfulness for what Yeshua has done in your life and looking forward with hope and an expectation. Having true joy makes the hardships in the now, endurable. Psalm 23:4 says “Even though I walk through the [sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort and console me.”
The world is a dead and dark place. We will experience tough situations – but we can endure because we have hope. In Hab 3 we read about tough situations. But Habakkuk wrote in verse 18 – that despite all of the negative things visible in the physical realm – “Yet I will [choose to] rejoice in the LORD; I will [choose to] shout in exultation in the [victorious] God of my salvation!”
There are so many Scriptures about joy, we can continue for a very long time listing them all – but I want to also share Neh 8:10: “Do not grief, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
Now we have established that true joy isn’t the absence of grief. So this verse isn’t contradicting other Scripture. What this Scripture means is that we shouldn’t lose focus of the bigger picture when we are grieving. We are allowed to grief and experience tough times. But those situations should never take over our lives in a way that we can no longer see the bigger picture.
As born-again believers, we don’t grief as the world does. The world griefs in hopelessness. But we have hope, even in the toughest situations, we can choose to keep our eyes locked in on Yeshua! It enables us to move forward regardless of what we’re facing.
The fruit of the Spirit is characteristics by choice, not by feeling. Cultivating the fruit of joy is about coming out of your situation and being able to see God' s hand in it all. Singing His praise even in the hardships.
Counterfeits of true joy are things like happiness, good health, nice experiences, new things. There ’ s nothing wrong with any of the above. But if your joy is dependent on that – your joy will always be on a rollercoaster ride. Happiness is based on happenings – which means it’s variable. Good health is a blessing that could change in an instance through sickness and accidents. If your joy is found in good health, will you still experience joy when you get sick or loose someone due to illness? It does not mean that you have to smile and laugh when you lose someone. It does however mean that despite the fact that you’re really going through a tough season in life – you still hold onto God and know that it wasn’t He who stole from you or tried to punish you. If our experiences are our source of joy – it means that our joy is rooted in our circumstances and not in Yeshua. There’s nothing wrong with being thankful and excited about new things such as a new car. But that's not true joy!
If we find our joy in earthly things we will always be rushing and running around looking for the next best thing, the next thrill. However, if our joy is found in Yeshua - our general mindset should be that of happiness. Not as the world knows it. People who are always happy don ’t necessarily have joy.
God did not send Yeshua to come and make us happy! He sent Him to come and make disciples of us. Of course you can be happy - just make sure that God is happy with the happenings.
I once heard someone said that the letters of JOY stands for Jesus; Others; Yourself. And it’ s so profound. Because that on its own shows the bigger picture. The order of importance. Our eyes should be locked on Yeshua, we should help others and keep our vision wide and focus on the bigger picture. And although we are allowed to experience the emotions we do – we will never experience true joy when it’ s always about ourselves.
Let’s cultivate glorifying God and enjoying life regardless of the situations and circumstances we face! Let’s ask ourselves, how we can focus more on others and less on ourselves – because there’s joy found in that. What can we do to benefit others? The more we focus on ourselves, the more narcissistic we become. The smaller our picture becomes. Eventually the world becomes a pretty dark place and then people wonder why they get depression and other mental health conditions.
(Disclaimer: I’ m NOT saying this is the reason behind all mental illnesses, but it definitely give you something to think about.)
Sometimes the reason why we are not joyful is because we don't see His purpose - we only see our own ideas and plans that got derailed. We live with an "if only " mentality... Thinking certain things could / would make us happy. But those are the very things that' s stealing our joy! God didn’t design us to be focused on ourselves and self-absorbed. When we fall into self-pity due to our circumstances - what we are actually saying to others are "I don't care about your problems, I only care about mine."
God’s heart was and always will be for community and fellowship. We need one another. ESPECCIALLY in tough times! Being able to experience that others are there for you and being there for others yourself, produces joy! It re-adjusts your focus that might have become skewed as a result of your circumstances. The Bible says that we should pray for one another and carry each other’s burdens. The weeds that kills joy is our sinful nature… Jealousy, fits of rage, not getting what you want, selfish ambitions, envy. Me, myself & I.
If we experience a lack of joy in our lives – maybe a good place to start is to examine our lives to see if we are maybe producing these weeds in our lives. We ask ourselves “why me?” or “ why did that have to happen?” And we end up focusing more on the situation than on Who God Is.
When people suffer and go through tough situations, the world pushes people more and more into the dark corner. The world teaches us – more self-love, more doing what YOU want, more hard work to reach YOUR desires, more more more… We end up caring more what the world thinks of us and less of what God says about us. We wander off so far away from Him, yet we religiously bombard Him with the “why” questions - as if He was the one who left us. In tough circumstances we accuse God and question His goodness.
We easily trust Him when everything is going according to our plans. And when it doesn’t we question Him? But He was always there, He always is and He always will be. But WE have to return to Him. We should focus our eyes on Him. We should be meditating on the Truth (Word) of God. We should be able to constantly remind ourselves about Who God is – regardless of our circumstances.
The word joy appears 158 times in the King James Version. Rejoice appears 198 times. That doesn 't include the words joyful, joyous or jubbeling. It’s in the Bible a lot. It means its important to God. The closer we stay to God, the more we learn His Word - the more Joy we will produce. Our circumstances might knock us back from time to time – but it won ’t knock us down! Happiness / the world' s understanding of joy is always a rollercoaster. It goes up and down based on the circumstances we face. But the fruit of Joy is consistent & everlasting!
"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" ~ Philippians 4:4 ~