Over the past couple of days we have written about peace and love as hallmarks of our life in Christ. Both of those grace gifts come from the Holy Spirit, our indwelling helper. They are of course ‘fruits’ of the Spirit that grow in us as we allow His life to flow through us, carrying the nourishment that produces the fruit, like the branches on a vine.
In the natural world the sap carrying that nourishment in any particular plant doesn’t make just any fruit, but the fruit that is of the kind that that particular plant was created for. ‘Then God said “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it according to their various kinds.” And it was so.’ Genesis 1:12.
We too will produce fruit, as the Holy Spirit flows through us with all His grace, help and encouragement, according to ‘our kind’. That is to say according to our new ‘life in Christ’. We can now expect to produce Christ like fruit as He flows through our unique personality. This is why Paul could encourage the Galatian Christians to expect, if they ‘lived by the Spirit’, that they would produce a lot of good fruit. Galatians 5:16,22-26.
Like the other fruit -‘Peace’ and ‘Love’ etc- ‘Joy’ originates in the heart of our Creator God. The Old Testament is full of prophetic encouragements to God’s people to rejoice and be full of joy at His deliverances and work on their behalf, even promising them ‘everlasting joy’ Isaiah 61:7. The Jews were often encouraged to celebrate and have days of ‘feasting and joy’. Esther 9:22. And of course we know that God Himself rejoices over His people with ‘great joy’ Zephaniah 3:17.
Speaking of Jesus, the writer to the Hebrews said of Him “God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.” Hebrews 1:9. And we know that even in the darkest of all days for Jesus, He chose the cross ‘for the joy set before Him’ Hebrews 12:2. The joy that is echoed in heaven over each one of us who have repented and fully turned to Jesus. Luke 15:7.
Joy is in the heart of God, heaven is full of it, and God fully intends to share His joy with us. Reading through both the Old and New Testament we can see that it is a very high priority in His Kingdom. So much so, in fact, that the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write that ‘The Kingdom of God is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit’. Romans 14:17.
Righteousness and peace we understand; no one can enter the Kingdom without the righteousness of Christ, which brings us to a place of peace with God. The ‘joy’ aspect, which I think is probably very unique to Christianity, is less explainable. It feels like it just bursts from God’s heart because His plan has worked. We are now His and He is ours in such a unique and special way. His plan has worked, He has got His ‘Bride’.
This is why I believe our ‘joy’ and ‘rejoicing’, will always be primarily in our relationship with Him, not just in what He does for us while we are here on earth. This is why our thanksgiving needs to move beyond thanking Him for His gifts to us, and what He does for us, to thanksgiving that we have this incredible relationship with Him, the King of all Kings, our Creator and Saviour. We are THE most privileged people in the whole of the earth. We have our heavenly ‘Bridegroom’ to ove and care for us.
So let us thank Him today afresh for this privilege, and let that thanksgiving lead us to ‘exult and thrill with inexpressible and glorious (heavenly) joy.’ 1 peter 1:8 AMP.