Joy is one of the Fruits of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…” Joy is perhaps one of the most elusive fruits for Christians. In my experience, I have found that it is not discussed quite as often as the other fruits found in this passage. Part of the problem may be that joy is often misunderstood.
We tend to equate “happiness” with “joy,” but these are two totally different concepts, because they each spring from a different source. One comes from the world around us. The other – joy – originates directly from the Spirit. It is something we cannot produce on our own. Happiness is conditioned by and often dependent upon what is “happening” to me. If people treat me well, and if things are going well in my life, then I am happy. If my circumstances are not favorable, then I am unhappy.
Joy, on the other hand, is a profound, compelling quality of life that transcends the events and disasters we may encounter. Joy is of divine origin and is not shackled by circumstances. The Hebrew word means, “to leap or spin around with pleasure.” In the New Testament the word refers to “gladness, bliss and celebration.”
If we are to have the fruit of joy ripen in our lives, we must recognize that it will take a journey to get there. It takes time, diligence, patience and hard work to make a tomato-vine produce tomatoes, or a grapevine produce grapes.
Physical fruit is not instantaneous, because it has to overcome weather, bugs, weeds, poor soil and neglect. Likewise, in our journey to joy we are faced with obstacles, so much so that there is no way we can manufacture this fruit on our own.
If we want to see the fruit of joy ripen in our lives, we desperately need God to prune away whatever it is that hinders our joy, and then we must make wise choices that move us closer to Him.