|Dragon fruit is absolutely delicious.|
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
We’ve already seen how different genuine, outward-focused love is from the counterfeit fruit of self-focused lust.
Now, let’s take a look at the next “real deal” fruit in the list. Joy.
I don’t think we really understand what joy means. We think in terms of happiness. We can understand happiness. We know we are happy:
- When something good happens.
- When we get a raise. When we hear a song we like.
- When our kids are being cute and funny and delightful to be around.
- When on vacation and everything is going well.
Happiness is dependent on our circumstances. Happiness is fragile. Happiness is transient. It quickly evaporates at the first sign of adversity. Happiness shatters like a delicate crystal glass when something goes wrong. There is nothing wrong with being happy, of course, but if happiness is all we have, we are settling for the world’s counterfeit.
The “real deal” fruit of joy is so much hardier than happiness. So much stronger. Joy is unquenchable. Joy holds firm in the face of adversity. Joy abides. Joy looks honestly at whatever has gone amiss in our circumstances and continues to bubble up in us and out of us.
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
(James 1:2-4 NASB)
We can be joyful in the middle of trying circumstances because we know that those very same circumstances will bring about something good in us. Joy enables us to look beyond the present and fix our eyes on what is to come.
Are we happy when illness hits…or unemployment…or loss of a loved one? No, of course not. Happiness could never stand up to such losses. It is far too fragile. But joy. Joy can stand up to it all.
Joy doesn’t always smile like happiness does. Joy doesn’t necessarily laugh, although it can. But joy always flows. Joy gives praise in the middle of the darkest night.
Joy enabled Paul and Silas to pray and sing hymns of praise to God. Did they do this while walking freely in the city? While comfortably gathered with other believers at a big revival service? No. They were chained with their feet in the stocks in a jail in Philippi. Not exactly the most positive experience of their lives. Yet joy welled up in them. They sang praises. They rocked their world…literally. (You can read the account in Acts 16.)
Let’s not settle for mere happiness. Again, there is nothing wrong with being happy. There is nothing wrong with being silly and giddy from time to time. Smiles and laughter are good and God-given.
Remember, though, that if we pursue happiness as an end in and of itself, we are settling for far less that God’s Holy Spirit wants to grow in us. Let’s resolve to allow the Holy Spirit to cultivate in us the “real deal” fruit of joy.
Are there ways that you have been pursuing happiness as an end in and of itself, only to find the happiness shattered when things go wrong? Is God saying anything to you about pursuing the "real deal" fruit of joy instead?