Monday, February 14, 2011

The Fruit of the Spirit is JOY!

I remember singing a song in church when I was little called “The Joy of the Lord is my Strength”.  I didn’t totally understand what it meant, but I sang it with all my might.
Then I grew up and I realized I still didn’t understand this joy that scripture talked about.  I thought it was based on my circumstances.  I got it confused with happiness.  The scriptures didn’t make sense to me.  How can someone consider trials joy as Paul said we should?  How can joy be our strength?  Then I did a study on joy and I got it and just in time too.

I have been told that most people are not interested in the Greek or Hebrew translations of scripture.  But I think it is fascinating because I learn so much more than I would have if I just took the word at face value.  Digging into the Greek & Hebrew has brought me into a deeper understanding & love for the Bible.
So, joy is one of those words that came alive for me when I dug into the Greek meaning. In Greek, the most common word used for joy in the Bible is chara.   This word means “joy, rejoicing, gladness-enjoyment, bliss” In John MacArthur’s ESV Study Bible (which I got for my birthday and love it!), joy is defined as 
“the sense of well being experienced by one who knows all is well between himself and the Lord.”
I don’t have joy because my life is easy (it’s not, but let’s just say it is).  I don’t have joy because I’m married to the most perfect husband ever or have almost perfect kids.  My joy is found in the truth that I belong to Jesus!  My joy is a result of knowing that my name is written in the Lambs Book of Life.
Ok, so that isn’t all that I found that was cool.  There is another word, very similar to chara.  It is charis, which is the Greek word for grace!   
As Beth Moore said, 
“Joy is literally written into grace!”   
It all makes sense now how Paul could have such joy in the midst of persecution.  It explains how Corrie ten Boom could experience joy while in the Nazi Concentration camps.  They knew that their salvation was unmerited.  They didn’t deserve it, but they had it.  Knowing they were covered by God’s gift of grace strengthened them to endure whatever came their way.
Grace is not about us…it is all about Him!  When we realize that, we can grasp, accept and cling to grace.  We experience joy when we know that our lives are not about us. When we decrease and he increases, joy is the result.  Whatever we have to endure can be done in a way that brings glory and honor to our Lord.  We can also relate to others in a whole different way. 
There is a reason why love is listed before joy in Galatians 5:22.  Without love you cannot experience or exhibit joy. It is the foundation for all the fruit of the Spirit.  Joy isn’t about keeping a smile on your face all the time.  You can have joy in the midst of tears.  But you can’t sit in your sadness or disappointment, because you know the joy of the Lord and the happiness that it does bring.

When the job is taken away, you can say “The joy of the Lord is my strength”
When the husband decides he doesn’t want to be married to you anymore, you can say “The joy of the Lord is my strength.”
When the medical tests do not come back with good news, you can say “The joy of the Lord is my strength.”
When that child is trying your patience again, you can say “The joy of the Lord is my strength”

We may lose our joy….

1.       When our outpour exceeds our intake.  Are you serving more than you are seeking?  I have been guilty of this.  This is very easy for mothers.  I find myself pouring myself into my children but not refueling with a quiet time.  Before long I am tired, exhausted & empty of joy.
2.       When our talk exceeds our walk. Once again, this happens when we are not in a daily time with the Lord.  We begin talking way too much and not walking out what we talk about.  It is exhausting and can only last a short while before you just can’t stand your self anymore.
3.       When we are exhausted.  God created our bodies and he knows that we cannot function when we don’t take care of ourselves.  It is hard for a mom, especially one with a new baby, to get the rest needed. I know in the past, when I was super tired I just didn’t want to be a mom anymore.  I’ve said it too! I was exhausted, I had no joy in being a mother.
4.       When we feel alone.  Motherhood can be a very lonely time of life believe it or not.  No one understands you.  No one has a child like you.  No one has a husband like yours.  Before you know it you are feeling quite alone.  But in all reality you are not alone.  Beside the Lord himself, you do have others out there who will understand and who will care.  It just takes reaching out.

The fruit of the Spirit is joy because when you are walking in step with the Spirit you will experience and exhibit his joy and it will be wonderful!  Praise God for the grace that covers you and enables you to live in His joy!

Read my other posts on the Fruit of the Spirit here.