The word joy has different meanings to different people. As I study joy this week, I want to make sure that my view on joy is a Biblical view and not a world-view. I think the key difference is that the world-view of joy is happiness that is evoked by external events, while I view joy as a happiness that is evoked by who we are in Christ – no matter what our external circumstances may be. Joy is an internal event while happiness is an external event. Sometimes we have to choose joy, and the Bible gives us direction and encouragement to help us along the way. Let’s look at how Jesus showed us the way to the joy that only He could give in John 15:5-12. Please read this scripture carefully and look at how Jesus says that we will have joy.
Last week I mentioned that love seemed to be the piece that tied all the other fruits together and built a strong and growing relationship with Christ. In fact, I looked at how Jesus pointed out that if we do not love, we do not know Him because He is love. Once again, it may appear that I am looking at love, but Jesus pointed out that love was the key to joy. After talking about love and remaining in Christ’s love Jesus says in verse 11, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” I find the phrase “your joy may be complete,” interesting. To me, it implies that joy is a journey; we don’t either have joy or have no joy. We are growing our joy as we walk in obedience and follow Christ’s example. It is like an upward spiral.
The more we walk in obedience, the more we will grow in Christ. Last week I studied how love is the greatest act of obedience which makes all of the other commandments fall into place. Love is basically what defines the law: love God and love others. As we love, we are being obedient and we grow closer to God. As we grow closer to God, the more overwhelmed we are by His love for us and our joy begins to grow. It may sound simplistic, but I can testify in my own life how my joy and excitement has grown stemming from my growth in my relationship with God. In order to find true joy in Christ, we need to obey and love. This is the best way to experience joy.
I am not going to imply that we will never feel sorrow because we have joy. Actually, in my own life, I think I feel and see sorrow more in this world we live in as my walk with God has become closer. The more we love, the more vulnerable we are to pain. The world doesn’t seem like home and I long to be at home with my Savior; however, I also experience joy all the greater. Bad things are still going to happen to us because we live in an imperfect world. We see the effects of child abuse, loved ones die; we live with physical pain or have to watch a loved one suffer. There are many ways to experience sorrow in this life, but God’s joy comes from the knowledge and hope we have in Christ. We know that there is more than what this life has to offer; we know that we are dearly loved by our Creator. We know that we have experienced the greatest love possible (John 15:13): “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”
I want my joy to be complete! Are you living a life that is in obedience so your joy may be complete?