The Difference in Happiness and Joy
Galatians 5:22 (TPT)
But the fruit produced by the Holy Spirit within you is divine love in all its varied expressions: joy that overflows, peace that subdues, patience that endures, kindness in action, a life full of virtue, faith that prevails, gentleness of heart, and strength of spirit. Never set the law above these qualities, for they are meant to be limitless.
When Paul was providing a list of things that the Holy Spirit produces in the lives of believers, he listed joy pretty early in the list. Some Biblical scholars have pointed out that in ancient texts, things and people were often listed in the order of importance. So while Paul opened up this list with the importance of displaying “divine love in all its varied expressions,” he didn’t waste any time mentioning the importance of having “joy that overflows.”
Before we approach the topic of how to find joy when things seem anything but joyful, let’s first look at what Paul says about the joy that we should possess. Our joy is supposed to overflow. The picture of an overflowing cup comes from Psalm 23:5, but Paul paints a similar image here. As children of God, our joy is supposed to overflow inside us. Not only does that ensure that the joy associated with our relationship with God touches every area of our lives, but it also means that it touches the people around us. When the people closest to you (the ones who know the details about the problems you’re facing in your life) see you walking around exhibiting joy, they are drawn to the source of your joy. When your joy overflows, it impacts more than your life!
But how do we find that kind of joy? When everything is falling apart all around us, how are we joyful? When the doctor’s report comes back bad or the divorce papers have been filed, how are we joyful? When friends have betrayed us and family members have turned their backs on us, how do we display “overflowing joy?” Jesus answered that question in Saint John’s Gospel:
John 15:10-11 (TPT)
If you keep my commands, you will live in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands, for I continually live nourished and empowered by his love. My purpose for telling you these things is so that the joy that I experience will fill your hearts with overflowing gladness.
We can experience overflowing joy when we stay connected to the source of our joy, Jesus Christ. When we live in His love, we experience the same joy that He experienced. His joy was tied to His eternal union with the Father, and our joy stems from the same relationship.
A Closing Prayer:
God, help me to experience the kind of overflowing joy that Your Word promises. Even when things aren’t going the way I want them to go, help me to remember that You are the Source of my joy. In Christ’s name, Amen.