It’s an interesting question; is fruit singular or plural. You can have a bowl of fruit that is full and containing various types of fruit, and you can have the fruit from a tree which describes a great number of pieces of fruit of the same variety, and then you can have a fruit salad that has pieces of many different fruits…plural!!
Some people would say that the fruit of the Spirit are a collection of different attributes that the Holy Spirit develops and produces in the believer one at a time, and others think that they are, like the facets of a diamond, different aspects of His character reflected through the likes of you and me as we are continually filled by Him.
Whatever your interpretation we must all agree that they are beautiful qualities, ‘love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.’ Paul rightly says ‘Against such things there is no law’. Galatians 5:22,23. Just imagine a world where that was all that there was in all our relationships. It’s called the Kingdom of God.
Over the past few days we have been looking at the fruit of ‘love’ and what it will look like as it manifests in our lives. We wrote a few days ago about the value of self control in helping us to stop and allow the Holy Spirit to lead our spirit into loving responses when we are provoked or tempted. So today let’s take a look at another fruit, ‘JOY’.
May be it’s just me, but I have a feeling that if we had to take a vote on it, JOY might be the most desired of all the fruit listed here. All the others seem to be expressions of love in some way, and are ‘other’ directed whereas ‘joy’ can almost feel a bit selfish. Well, let’s have a think about that.
These fruits are from the Holy Spirit, they reveal to us His nature and character, and He has inspired Paul to include ‘joy’ in this list. Joy is ‘rife’ in heaven, especially when someone becomes a Christian, Luke 15:7,10. Joy is in the heart of the Father, and was one of the things that He anointed Jesus to bring to earth, Isaiah 61:3.
There was also much ‘joy’ when Jesus left heaven and came to earth; ‘News of great joy’ the angels said, Luke 2:10, and the wise men were overjoyed too. Matthew 2: 10. It was also ‘for the joy set before Him that Jesus endured the cross’. Hebrews 12:2. He had real joy in knowing that He was going to save you and me. So much so that we are told God ‘has set Him above His companions by anointing Him with the oil of joy’ Psalm 45:7.
Joy gives us energy, and it is infectious. It also helps us to live out the other fruits that are listed. For example God loves us to give with joy in our hearts, 2 Corinthians 9:7, and He also wants us to ‘ be filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy’, I Peter 1:8 as we believe in Him. Our joy and gratitude also recommend our wonderful Saviour to the people around us, and it gives great glory to God.
Joy is also, as we said yesterday, something that is ours when we spend time in the Lords presence. Psalm 16:11. It is also amazing that I can bring joy to my heavenly Father, but I can. The prophet Zephaniah tells us that God ‘exults with joy’ over His people in 3:17, NASB. Think of that! And a modern translation of the famous blessing verses in Numbers 6:25, reads ‘May the Lord bless and protect you; may the Lord’s face radiate with joy because of you, may He be gracious to you; show you His favour and give you His peace’.
How wonderful that the Lord shares His joy with us, if we are filled with His Spirit then joy is going to be a fruit. Let us thank the Lord today that He didn’t keep His joy for Himself leaving us with the more ‘serious fruit’ to develop, like and patience and gentleness. Let our thanksgiving open up our hearts and minds to receive more joy, and then to be able to give it away.