Joy Depends on God Reigning in Our Hearts

by Wayne Barber

We are looking at Galatians 5:22 and 23, and contrasting what Christ produces in us in comparison with what our sick flesh produces when we choose to obey it’s desires.

What a tremendous contrast we have when we choose not to obey our flesh but instead yield to Christ and to His Word. He produces His love in us. His love! When Christ’s love is present in our lives, then there will be His joy! Note: His joy, not some counterfeit giddiness we come up with ourselves. Galatians 5:22: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy….”

The word “joy” is chará in the Greek It could easily be translated “delight.” But let’s don’t confuse it with frivolous delight. It is an inward quality that transcends whatever external difficulty we might be dealing with. It comes from the word chaíro\, which means to rejoice. I understand that the root of this word was derived from a little lamb skipping about in joy. It is visible no matter what we are going through. Even in our tears, we have this when Christ’s love is present in our lives—when it is Christ, and not us.

It is this “joy”—this supernatural fruit of God’s Spirit—that continually filled the disciples in the midst of im-mense persecution. “And the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 13:52).The persecution, as in Galatians, came from the religious Jews who could not stomach the message of God’s grace.

In a similar tense and difficult situation it was this joy that caused the people of Thessalonica to receive the Word in much tribulation: “You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit” (1 Thess. 1:6). The word “tribulation” is thlípsis. It is when you are being pressured—squeezed—from all sides!

It is this joy, Christ’s own joy, that He prayed for in His great High Priestly prayer in John 17: “But now I come to Thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy made full in themselves” (v. 13). Jesus said, “Let My joy be made full in them.” Remember, it was with “joy” that Christ went to the cross. When Jesus had taught His disciples about “abiding in Him” in John 15 He concluded with this same thought! “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full” (v. 11).

It is this joy that the Book of Romans tells us is the proof of God’s reigning in our hearts: “For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom.14:17). Paul does not speak of the future kingdom that is coming, but rather of the spiritual kingdom God has set up in the believer’s heart. We can know that Christ rules in our hearts when there is the presence of “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.” It is this joy, Paul also tells us in Romans, that God fills us with when we live believing Him and His Word: “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 15:13 ). God fills the heart of the believer with “all joy” and “peace.” The definite article is before the word “believing.” In “the believing” which is very specific—in the practice of believing God—which is the norm for believers. Believing means surrendering to Him and obeying His Word.

This causes the believer to “abound” in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit and to be filled with His joy. In all these passages, the Holy Spirit must produce the joy. This sets it aside from all the frivolous joy that the world says it has. When the “love”—Christ’s love— is being manifested, then the “joy” will be present with it.

Is there anyone who has come into your life who has treated you badly; or has there been a circumstance that wounded you; and as a result, instead of yielding to Christ have you chosen to react? As a result, is the love of Christ’s Spirit not present, and did the joy leave with it?

Wayne Barber is senior pastor of Hoffmantown Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico.<![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]>

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