Galatians 5:22-23 Joy is a mindset that supplies unlimited strength to accomplish great exploits
Galatians 5:22-23 Joy is a mindset that supplies unlimited strength to accomplish great exploits
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Joy, the fruit of the Spirit, is not a derivative emotion that is affected by circumstances. It is active and potent causing breakthroughs resulting in favourable circumstances. As a man grows in the Spirit, he also grows in experiencing various heights of joy… from the joy of sonship to the joy of eternal life. Today’s devotion teaches us: Joy is a mindset that supplies unlimited strength to accomplish great exploits.
But the fruit of the Spirit is… joy.
Joy (chara in Greek) denotes an experience of gladness and optimism. However, Joy is not a derivative emotion, but rather a state, a virtue of Christ that causes one to experience exhilaration, optimism and strength. Happiness, on the other hand, is purely a derivative emotion arising from a happening or occasion. The emotion of happiness will continue as long as circumstances are favourable. But joy is not affected by circumstances, for it is a state of the heart, an attribute of Christ. As seen in the figure below, happiness is a derivative of favourable circumstances. But Joy is active and potent causing breakthroughs resulting in favourable circumstances.
That said, as a man grows in the Spirit, he also grows in experiencing various kinds of joy beginning with the joy of sonship, then the joy of obedience, the joy of sanctification and lastly the joy of eternal life.
Joy of sonship
Jesus said to the disciples returning from their exploits against the devil,
“Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.” – Luke 10:19-20.
Jesus corrected the disciples who placed their confidence in results. For they should place their confidence in the fact that they are seated with Christ in the kingdom of heaven. These are the ones who follow Jesus and are appointed to rule with Him. Therefore, we need to constantly remind ourselves of who we are… as disciples of Christ, the sons of God. And we are not to seek allegiance with the world or to allow others to belittle us in anyway.
Joy of obedience
The joy of obedience arises when we walk with God and abide in His love. This joy belongs to one who walks in God’s will; who enters through the narrow gate; who commits all his possessions to God; who ranks his relationship with God as more important than all familial relationships; who says, “Not my will, but God’s will be done!” The joy of obedience is like the heart that never stops beating, which strengthens us through droughts, famines, and the most mundane of tasks. Jesus taught His disciples,
“If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” – John 15:10-11
Now, a man’s obedience justifies his relationship with God. Jesus encouraged His disciples to keep “these things” (my Father’s commandments) and abide by “My love”. In so doing, they may experience the joy of obedience, that vindicates them as the sons of God (your joy may be made full).
Joy of sanctification
The joy of sanctification resonates within us when we go through trials and tribulations. We rejoice when we notice progress in the way we perceive problems, deal with difficult situations, and use divine authority to accomplish God’s will. When we see ourselves becoming wiser, more gracious and increasing in authority, there is great joy and satisfaction. Paul said,
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. – James 1:2-4
That said, sanctification comes at a price of sorrow and suffering. For the sake of perfection, Paul reminded us to be joyful during difficult times, “… as sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing yet possessing all things.” – 2 Corinthians 6:10.
Joy of eternal life
The joy of eternal life pertains to the glory and reward that believers will receive at the finishing line. We are overjoyed whenever we think of the prospect of receiving God’s commendation. Hence, by constantly reminding ourselves of the joy to come, we endure the pangs of sorrows and sufferings of the present. Hours before Jesus was arrested, He said to His despairing disciples,
20 Truly, truly, I say to you, that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will grieve, but your grief will be turned into joy. 21 Whenever a woman is in labor she has pain, because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy that a child has been born into the world. 22 Therefore you too have grief now; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you. – John 16:20-22
Even though the disciples would soon be facing the challenges of ministry alone, their sorrows would be eclipsed by the prospect of obtaining eternal life. And the hope of seeing Jesus again turned their existential grief into joy. And Jesus said concerning His imminent return,
“Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.” – Revelation 22:12
Therefore, during protracted periods of sorrow and despair, we are reminded that the tribulations will soon end. And Jesus will come to reward the righteous and to render justice for all.
A believer grows by moving up one level of joy to the next.
The spiritual age of a believer does not correspond to the number of years he has been a Christian. A one-year old Christian can be way more virtuous, wise and having more authority than one of 10 years. Nor can a Christian’s maturity be measured by his cognitive understanding of scripture or leadership role in the church. By what means can a Christian’s maturity be measured? By the things that he takes joy in. In the diagram below, we see the four levels of joy. The lower levels serve as foundations to higher levels of joy. As a believer grows, he experiences different kinds of joy, the highest of which is the joy of eternal life.
A new believer rejoices in the fact that he is a child of God. He is exhilarated by the fact that God loves him, protects and provides for him. However, he may live life oblivious to the will of God. And he employs his own reasoning as to the way that he should go.
A young believer having come of age learns the truth of the word and obeys it. Now, not only does he rejoice in the fact that he is God’s child, He takes joy and satisfaction in obeying God’s commandments. He grows to rejoice in His obedience to God’s directives.
An adult believer differs from a young believer in the way he responds to the tribulations of life. A young believer may fret that despite his obedience, he experiences ill treatments and injustices. An adult believer rejoices in injustices and mistreatments because he knows the necessity of sanctification and desires to be perfected through them.
A mature adult believer takes joy in the prospect of fulfilling his divine calling. The joy of eternal life is that which motivated Paul through unprecedented sufferings, “… in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day.” – 2 Timothy 4:8. The joy of eternal life is the highest kind of divine joy. It belongs to those who have set their minds to carry the cross to become a blessing to the world.
Jesus Himself was motivated by the joy of eternal life as He endured the torture and shame of the cross. Hebrews 12:2 says, “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Joy is a mindset that supplies unlimited strength to accomplish great exploits
Joy is the fruit of the Spirit that strengthens men to persevere and to do great exploits. In other words, one who is obedient to Christ’s commandments will certainly experience joy and obtain strength to fulfil his calling.
In Nehemiah 8, when the Jews returned from exile, Nehemiah read the scriptures to the people. The people, upon hearing the word weeped for they were well aware of their nation’s sin that sent them to exile (Neh 8:9). Because they understood the scriptures and have committed themselves to obey, weeping turned into joy, and frailty turned into strength (Neh 8:10). And strength causes them to persevere and to succeed as a nation.
Many churchgoers try to manufacture divine joy and strength by listening to testimonies and by singing their favourite worship songs. True joy and strength is not a derivative of favourable circumstances, nor do they come by way of motivational speeches or emotionally charged worship concerts. But of quiet love and repentance towards God.
That said, many faithful believers have their joy robbed from them because their labours of love are not forthcoming. Jesus, despite being betrayed by Judas and forsaken by His disciples, maintained His joy that came from His commitment to do the Father’s will. At the end of the day, no one can rob us of our joy and strength when we commit ourselves wholeheartedly to love God and to obey Him.
Therefore, one’s lack of joy and strength is most certainly attributed to the lack of trust, obedience and vision in his life.
Are you frequently being pressured by others to fulfil their agenda? Rejoice for your name is written in heaven and you are given divine authority to accomplish your calling. Seek to understand your purpose and calling. Prepare yourself to walk on the narrow path and fulfil your calling. You will begin to grow into the joy of obedience.
Are you frequently downcast because your efforts do not bear fruit as you expect? Rejoice not because of your achievements, but rather that you have walked in obedience to God’s will. The question that you should be asking is: have you done what is right and to your level best?
Are you despaired because of the injustice and mistreatment you have been enduring? Take stock of the fruit of righteousness that you will be bearing through this difficult period. Rejoice that you have become wiser and more virtuous in the process and God is preparing you for greater tasks ahead.
Are you feeling the fatigue because the years of sacrifice and hard work? Remind yourself of the blessing that your work will bring to future generations… And the commendation that you will receive from God for a job well done, and for a life well lived.
Dear Lord, I rejoice as I am reminded of who I am as your son. I rejoice as I endeavour to walk in your truth and do your will. I rejoice in trials and injustices because I am being perfected. I rejoice as I am running towards the finishing line and receive your commendation. Even as I rejoice, supply me with divine strength so that I may accomplish great exploits. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.