Continuing the devotions on the fruit of the spirit. Previous posts on this blog we discussed the importance of spiritual fruits over gifts in Christian living, the aspect of love in the Christian doctrine, about loving God, people & ourselves, and about sincere love for God leading us to worshipping him sacrificially and obediently submitting our whole lives to him. Gal 5:22 says “But the fruit of the Spirit is Love, Joy, …”. Find a couple who is deeply in love with each other, you will notice that there is a great element of joy that they experience in each other’s company. Perfect love casts out fear, it arouses a deep sense of trust and security within you, leading you to enjoy overflowing joy. The kind of joy that comes from knowing the Lord is becomes our strength. The joy that we receive from the world is momentary and at a later stage becomes our weakness. But the joy, we receive from the Lord, no one can take it away from us and continues to drive us.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. (Psalms 51:12 ESV)
David prays God to restore to him the “joy of salvation”, (Psalms 51 12) There is a joy that floods the heart of any debtor who has had his debts forgiven. Suppose you own a huge amount of money to somebody, failing to pay which you might have to face dire consequences. And on realizing your helplessness, that person lets you off the hook, forgiving all your debts. What joy will fill your heart! That’s what Jesus did for us, not only did he let us off the hook, but also adopted us into his family making us sons and co-heirs with him. If you know what I am talking about, that abundant joy that floods every fiber of your being, since the day you truly became a believer, it’s the joy of salvation. Jesus said in Luke 10:20 “Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” The joy of knowing that you are saved from the debt of sin, the joy of knowing you are part of his family, the joy of knowing him for yourself. Quoting Shyju Mathew, “It’s not enough that God is the source of your joy, He has to be your JOY.”
Many a times Christians seem to be the most miserable people on earth. As if the burden of the whole world is on their head. If Christians preach forgiveness of sins and removal of burdens through Jesus, why don’t they express it with their actions? Why ain’t the joy of salvation always guarding their emotions. Please note that joy is an emotion. But it wells up from you KNOWING in your heart who God is, what he has already done for you, what he is doing for you and what he is going to do for you. An ignorant person will always keep on questioning God and murmuring about his circumstances like the Israelites did. Jesus said, “in this world you will have trouble, but take courage because I have overcome the world”. If you do not know this overcoming savior personally, your heart will always be troubled and your emotions will keep on fluctuating. One more thing that can choke the joy of your salvation is sin. Psalm 97:11 “Light is sown for the righteous, and joy for the upright in heart.” When your conscience pricks your heart, reminding you of that non-reconciled sin in your life, the joy in your soul goes for a toss. That’s what happened with David, when he sinned with Bathsheba. Though he realized it only later when the prophet Nathan encountered him for his sin. Then he cried out to God saying Restore to me the joy of your salvation. (Psalm 55:12) Always check the level of joy in your life to check, if your heart is right with God.
We’d have to cultivate joy in the field of our character and emotions by sowing the right seed in our hearts. Psalms 119:111 states “Your testimonies are my heritage forever, for they are the joy of my heart” Its when we dig deep into the word of God and in prayer that we will get to know God for ourselves. If you will seek him, he will be found of you. He will start speaking to you and his joy will reign in you and your joy will be full. (John 15:11) Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, says James 1:2. Take every trouble that comes your way as an opportunity to build your spiritual muscle and to demonstrate the joy of God. Its not natural for a person who has lost his business to be singing songs of joy. It needs the anointing of the Holy Spirit to do things like that.
When a person is filled with joy, there will be a lot of external manifestations of it. The book of psalms is full of them. A person filled with joy will sing, cry, shout, clap, dance or even leap!! Luke 1:44 states Elizabeth speaking to Mary “For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy”. A person who says he is filled with joy in his heart, but shows no external manifestations is lying. The face is the mirror of the heart. But the opposite is not always true. If the heart is full of divine joy it will be shown on the person’s face and in his body language!! But just because a person seems happy and cheerful from the outside, doesn’t meant he has the joy within him. Only a personal relationship with Jesus Christ can bring true joy into a person’s heart.
Joy is like the fuel in our characters, it keeps us moving even during the worst days of our lives. Will you please take some time to check the joy gauge in your life. If the level’s low, please compare your life with the scriptures and get to know what is the reason for this fuel leakage! Once you have fixed all the leakages, to refill your life with joy, all you need to do is just cry out to God like David saying “Restore to me the joy of your salvation”. Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, Rejoice!