Word #73 – Joy
A kind of holy happiness that can be cultivated through reveling in what is eternally true
“At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.” (Luke 10:21)
How come in so many of the Jesus movies produced over the last sixty or so years Christ isn’t portrayed as being full of “joy”? More times than not, He looks like a customer service worker…with a bad case of the flu…at 4 pm on the day after Christmas. The on-screen Jesus is almost always somber. He has a vacant, hollow look…like maybe He could use some Excedrin. We can easily see this Jesus scowling at His disciples, or losing His temper with the Pharisees. It’s hard to imagine Him teasing a child, or throwing back His head and laughing.
What a tragedy!
Because Jesus, as God incarnate, was joy personified. Both the Old and New Testament words for joy convey the idea of deep, internal gladness. At the risk of sounding cheesy, jhoy is the broad, steady grin of a heart that is convinced “all is well because the Father is in control.” In the same way that authentic love comes ultimately from God, so also true joy-the really good stuff-originates in Him (Psalm 16:11; Zephaniah 3:17; Galatians 5:22).
Biblical joy is a far cry from the worldly happiness our culture seeks and settles for. Jesus said He, not the changing circumstances of life, is the source of joy (John 15:11). And the joy He gives is substantive, not superficial; it’s enduring, not ephemeral. Though happiness quickly dissipates when bad news arrives, joy can be cultivated and kept at all times-even when one’s life situation is a long way from great.
In an age dominated by bleak realities, joy is subversive. It makes commas out of the world’s periods. It acts as a kind of holy defibrillator, rousing the dying with the shocking claim that things are not at all what they seem.
though it’s badly needed, joy is-sadly-rare. It’s the snow leopard of the fruit of the Spirit. Far too many Christians resemble the grim Jesus of cinema or the religious people H.L. Mencken once described as “worried that somebody somewhere is having fun.”
Questions: What about Christ’s final prayer that His followers might be filled with His joy (John 17:13)? What about the observation of the Late Warren Wiersbe that the Christian life is supposed to resemble a wedding feast, not a funeral?”
The Bible indicates that the condition of being joyful is connected to the action of rejoicing. In other words, when we experience joy, we naturally express it. And the more joy we express, the more joy we experience.
That anonymous, wise old saint was right when he said, “Joy is a continuous, defiant ‘Nevertheless.'”
Choose joy, then ask the Lord to fill you with His infinite holy gladness.
What’s your reaction to Jesus’ prayer that His followers be filled with joy (John 17:13)?