THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT - THE SECOND GRAPE OF THE CLUSTER
Joy or Happiness, which One is of the Lord?
What is the difference between joy and happiness? Which one is dependent on circumstances and which one is delighting oneself in the Lord?
The first grape/characteristic, we looked at in the cluster of God's fruit in our lives, was love. The fruit of God's Spirit “love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control,” Galatians 5:22, is like a cluster of grapes. You cannot have one without having the whole cluster. Now one characteristic/grape may be more developed than the other, but you cannot have one without the others. How developed is the characteristic or grape of joy in your life and mine?
Joy cannot be found in the midst of happiness. Happiness is dependent on the happen stances in life, whether it is cloudy and rainy or sunny and warm. Happiness could be dependent on whether you get your own way or not. It could be contingent on people, one's physical well-being, possessions, popularity, social or career position. Happiness which is dependent on what is expected of people can too easily and quickly lead to broken trust, skepticism and cynicism. Happiness that is centered on wealth and possessions can decay, be lost or stolen. Happiness that is based on health is a deception, because disease or old age will eventually take its toll. Happiness that is rooted in social or career position with its accomplishments, popularity or notoriety quickly fades with time as some one else comes on the stage with greater accomplishments or a higher position.
Joy, on the other hand, is entirely different. It is founded and grounded in the faithfulness, the steadfast love, the righteousness and everlasting kindness of the Lord. It is rooted in the care, compassion and concern of a gracious and merciful Heavenly Father. Joy is based on the promises and hope of experiencing God's presence now and forever. How else can one explain the following story?
“And the crowd (in Philippi) rose up together against them, (Paul & Silas), the chief magistrates tore their robes off them, and ordered them to be beaten with rods. And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to guard them securely; and he, having received such a command, threw them into the inner prison, and fastened their feet in the stocks. But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them; and suddenly there came a great earth-quake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone's chains were unfastened. When the jailer had been roused out of sleep and had seen the prison doors opened, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Do yourself no harm, for we are all here!’ And he called for lights and rushed in, trembling with fear, he fell down before Paul and Silas, and after he brought them out, he said, 'Sirs, what must I do to be saved?' They said, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved, you and your household.’ They spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house. And he took them that very hour of the night and washed their wounds, and immediately he was baptized, he and all his household. He brought them into his house and set food before them, and rejoiced greatly, having believed in God with his whole household.” (Acts 16:22-34 NASB)
It certainly was not the most desirable or pleasurable situation; and yet Paul and Silas were able to sing praises to the Lord. Oh, there is something else we need to beware of. Joy cannot be found in the sensual or pleasurable things of life, those things in life that stimulate our senses like taste, touch, what we hear, what we see or what we smell. When we try to find joy this way, we attempt to find more & more things or activities to stimulate us, because we are left empty and bored. Therefore, we think if we just have more; than we will find that which can meet the deepest need of our lives, which is joy. But joy is found only in the Lord.
“Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him." (Psa 34:8 NIV) "Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live.” (Isa 55:1-3 NIV)
Joy is found and experienced only in the Lord. W. Phillip Keller describes it this way in his book entitled A Gardener Looks at the Fruits of the Spirit.“ Joy comes only with Him who Himself is joy. The extent, to which He occpuies the ground of my whole being, that is the extent to which I have His Joy. If Christ controls and has His Way in my career, business, hobbies, home, friendships, service and interests, whatever they be, there I will also experience His joy. It is quite literally impossible to be at variance with God in any area of life and there find joy. Joy is part and parcel of harmony with Him in my activities. The instant I comply with His wishes, His joy energizes my being. The moment I disagree with His desires; joy fades, and faith falters.”
LET US DELIGHT OURSELVES IN THE LORD!
Pastor Perry DeGroot