“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” James 1:2-4
Bible passages to know: Psalm 32:7-9; 34:1-8; Proverbs 15:13; John 15:11; 17:13; 2 Corinthians 12:9; Galatians 5:22-23; 1 Thess. 5:18; 1 Peter 4:13- 19; Hebrews 10:34; 12:2; James 1:2-12
This keyword, Joy, is not meant to be a statement of happiness or being cheerful; rather, it is so much more. It is a beacon for us to be in our thoughts and composure, how we are. This happens when we are a transformed Christian who is growing in Christ in our faith and maturity. It is an often-misunderstood word and even misused too. It has nothing to do with pleasure or how we may feel, or when we get what we want, it is how we are to set our thinking and temperament.
The basic definition is, contentment, and that contentment is not to be based on one’s situation, or what we have; rather, it is all laid upon who we are in Christ. Hence the call in James is to consider, that means to count on it and even to declare it so.
Joy is also a “Fruit of the Spirit.” It is a prime way to let our focus be on Christ as Lord. This allows us to enjoy our relationship with Him, His creation, and others, regardless of our circumstances, with an expression of delight and real, authentic happiness that comes from and with harmony with God and others. Joy is declaring our life condition as happy and fulfilling, even when it is not. It is to change our mindset and focus. Because we realize the sovereignty of God and that He is in control, even when life seems to be turned upside down and inside out! Thus, Joy helps us understand God’s perspective and gives us the confidence and patience to endure anything. Joy is not about pleasure, because we may not be gratified and pleased with it; rather, joy is hope. The unshakable confidence of our future in Christ. Our pleasure comes from knowing He is in charge and caring for us!
As we surrender and serve our Lord, we will gain more joy. We gain a greater reality, purpose, and contentment that surpasses our desires and wants.
Joy helps us understand God’s perspective and gives us the confidence and patience to endure anything. Our true pleasure comes from knowing He is in charge and cares for us! Christ will meet us in our deepest need and we are complete in Him. Our response is to put Jesus first and let Him work in our lives. Joy will allow us to enjoy our relationship with Christ, His creation, and others, regardless of our circumstances, with an expression of delight and real, authentic happiness that comes from and with harmony with God and others (John 3:29; 16:20-22, 21:17; 24; Rom. 12:1-2; 1 Thess. 5:18; 2 Pet. 1:5-7; 3:9; 3 John).
Joy is also an aspect of our worship. Psalm 100
Worship is a covenant and call from our Lord to come before Him and meet with Him with reverence, gladness, and joy. It is a call to know Christ intimately and express appreciation to Him with praise and thanksgiving, doing so with passion, sincerity, conviction, and in reverent fear and trembling. Worship is the aptitude, attitude, and practice of expressing the desire to know our Lord and Savior further, and being grateful for Who He Is and what He has done for us. Our Joy is expressed in worship, as we give Him our best. And, we do this because of our gratitude, we are His; we give Him our heart that is already His. He has given His best to us already; in addition, we are enveloped into His eternal love and care for pure and useful purposes.
Joy is not always an emotional response, although it can be it done with the Truth of our Lord not emotional drama. Because, it is more of a commitment to follow Him with all of our heart, soul, and mind. Our response is our duty from a heart He made in us. It is also a responsibility and a delight; we do it even when we do not feel like it because we do it to please Him and we find joy in that. Joy becomes worship when we are giving our respect to Christ and expressing our joy for Who He is. We are the people whom He has made and redeemed so that as individuals, we can worship and honor Him in our hearts and attitudes, then come together collectively to praise and honor Him as Lord of our lives.
Take a closer look at James 1:2, consider or count it joy refers to declaring our situation as happy and fulfilling. And if we get this, we get the secret of contentment and being a productive and happy Christian. Everything in our life will improve, relationships, even our work. Just because we changed our outlook and approach to life. Even if our situation does not change, our attitude and response will be making the journey of our life easier and fulfilling as we learn and grow in it.
Joy will be the critical character that inspires and leads us. Joy empowers our enthusiasm and recognizes that Christ will lift us up in His time.
It sees the hope to come and takes delight in the moment, even in times of harshness. Joy will allow us to enjoy our relationship with Christ, His creation, others, and our circumstances with an expression of delight and real, authentic happiness from and in harmony with God and others. However, there is a catch to this! Joy, as James put it, must be declared and evident even when it is not visible (James 1:2-4). Like planting a flag and claiming a new land, this in the name of our Lord. The joy we are to have is His love filling us so it spills out. Joy must carry us through all of our experiences and situations. It must rule our character and response, not our expectations and desires. Joy must set the tone of how we engage God and then respond to others, whether it is prosperity or adversity, whether we are in the oval office or living in the streets.
So, we can look at whatever situation we face and say this is good, this will better me, or this will help me. I may not understand it, but I can trust God; He is there and He will carry me through it! We are called to declare our situation, whatever it may be, as joy! Because, it is not a question of if we have problems, but when, as we all will face them. We will face problems; they are inevitable, unavoidable, and unpredictable, and no one is immune! How we deal with them is crucial for our contentment and faith. There is no escape living in our corporeal bodies and in a sinful world (Gal. 3:26; Col. 3:1-4)!!
If we are not joyful, the rotten fruits will come in and take us captive. We will bow to anger, despair and bitterness. Despair limits us like a ball and chain from our potential and growth and the enjoyment of life. It cuts us off from relationships, and our learning experiences from and God. It leads to depression that cuts us off from seeing hope and purpose in what life and eternity are all about! We must always be mindful to place joy in all aspects of our life and expectations. If you are having problems, take a serious look at despair and where it will get you, because there can be no delight without joy. You can have no true confidence without joy. What we suffer through, what we go through, what we give up is of no comparison to what we gain! Christianity and suffering are the ultimate delayed gratification.
How do I do this?
Surrender your life, all of it to Christ’s Lordship. He loves you and is in control. Realize you can have God-given tranquility, which comes from the yielding of ourselves to our Lord. When Christ is in control, we have peace because He is the source of ultimate peace! This will be achieved when we allow tranquility from our harmonious relationship with Christ be our attitude, control, and composure. The closer we are to Christ, the closer we are to contentment and what is really important in life. Because peace allows for wisdom and amity, it promotes enthusiasm, virtue and love and forgiveness. Peace is also a Fruit of the Spirit that comes from the tree of love that is fruited with wisdom, pruned with virtue, watered with forgiveness, and produces the sweet fruits of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience which all synergistically work together (Isa. 26:3; Matt. 5:9; Luke 19:42; John 14:27; 16:33; Rom. 5:1; 12:18; Gal. 5:19-23; Col. 3:15-17; Phil. 4:7). John 16:16-33
Questions to ponder:
- What kind of commitment did you think the Christian life is about before becoming a Christian? What about now?
- Are you devoted to Christ or a slave to your misguided desires, will and to the manipulation of others?
- How does joy impact your personality? What about your ministry and church? How does this help you trust and obey Christ and remain fruitful?
- Why do so few of us actually have this real joy working in us it? What can you do about this?
© 1987, 2017, Rev. R. J. Krejcir, Ph.D. Discipleship Tools, www.discipleshiptools.org