5. The importance of joy
Joy is one of the most important ingredients in the Kingdom of God. We read that “The Kingdom of God is … righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 14:17) Joy is also the very atmosphere of heaven. We read in the Book of Revelations, “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, …”.(Revelations 21:4) Heaven s a place with no more sorrow, crying or tears, a place of pure joy! The good news is that we can have this experience right here in earth today. Jesus wants His Kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven.
What is joy?
1. The definition of joy, is an emotional feeling of great delight and pleasure. 2. Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit which does not depend on our circumstances or experiences. Although our experiences may give us joy, our joy will influence our experiences. 3. Furthermore, joy is a sign of spirituality and holiness.
We read in Nehemiah 8: 11, “… for this day is holy to the Lord your God. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”To the religious mind, sorrow, crying and repenting is often regarded as spiritual and holy. Not so in the Kingdom of God, one of the signs of spiritual maturity is joy. Anointed people are usually joyful people. It usually takes more faith to rejoice, and celebrate God’s goodness, than to weep and be sorry! Just as joy is an expression of faith, tears is an expression of repentance.
In John 17:13, Jesus prays for His disciples and says, “That they may have Myjoy fulfilled in them.” Here He speaks about “My joy“. Jesus was the most joyful person that even lived on earth. We read in Hebrews 1:9, “Your God, has anointed You With the oil of gladness more than Your companions.” He laughed, He sang, He shouted for joy, He smiled and He may even have danced with joy! In fact He was the creator of joy. Our joy can know no bounds! Even God the Father is very joyful. He surrounds us with songs of deliverance, He rejoices over us with gladness and we read in Psalm 2:4, “That He sits in heaven and laughs...”
How to have joy, or increase our joy:
Firstly, we need to have an outward focus: When we have intention meet the need of others and share the gospel with others, our level of joy will increase. Jesus said, “They that sow and they that reap will rejoice together.” (John 4:36) Isaiah speaks about the joy of the harvest. (Isaiah 9:6)Furthermore Jesus says, “there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:10) In Psalms we read that we “sow in tears, we reap in joy.” (Psalms 126:5)If we are low on joy, we need to stop focusing on all our own personal needs and to begin to focus on the needs of others and tell them about Jesus.
Secondly, we need to make a decision to rejoice. In the world, people rejoice because of what has happened to them. In the Kingdom of God, we have joy because we chose to rejoice, despite our circumstances. A well-known verse in the book of Habakkuk says, “Though the fig tree does not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines … Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the Lord.” (Hab. 3:17-18) This first of allmeans, that we rejoice, despite our negative circumstances. Secondly, it means that ifwe joy in the Lord, it could cause the fig tree will blossom again and to cause the vine again to bear fruit again, etc. God can restore that what we have lost, if we chose to rejoice.
King David wrote in Psalms, “And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: Therefore, will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy…”(Psalm 27:6)Notice, he said that he would offer a sacrifice of joy, it was a decision, not based on his feelings. There are many ways that we can release joy into our lives. We can dance, we can sing, we can laugh, we can jump in the air, we can clap our hands, we can shout, etc. We can speak joyful words of faith. We read in Proverbs 15:23. “A man has joy by the answer of his mouth.”
Furthermore, Joy is not only a decision that we take, but a command that we must obey. The Bible says, “Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice.” (Philippians 4:4) This is not something that we are to experience from time to time, but a commandment that we are to continually obey. There are also other commandments to rejoice throughout in the Bible.
Thirdly, joy comes as a result of righteousness. The Bible says that the Kingdom of God is not meat or drink but righteousness peace and joy. (Romans 14:17)We cannot have joy without righteousness. It says of Jesus, “He loved righteousness and hated iniquity, Therefore, God has anointed Him with the oil of joy above His companions.” (Hebrews 1:9)Sin and compromise will rob us of the joy of the Lord. This is especially true of the sin of pride. The Bible says that the “humble shall increase their joy in the Lord.” (Isaiah 29:19)Humble people are often very joyful people. Joy and peace are often linked together in the Scriptures. Therefore, one of the ways that we know that we are right with God, is that we will have peace and joy.
Fourthly, joy comes when we activate our faith. In Romans we read, “Now may the God of hope fill you with joy and peace in believing…” (Romans 15:13) Notice, God fills us with joy, ‘in believing.’ Faith creates an atmosphere of joy! Therefore, a positive attitude of faith will bring joy into our hearts. Peter writes,“Whom having not seenyou love. Though now you do not see Him,yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory.” (1 Peter 1:8) Wow! When we believe God’s word even if we do not see the answers or sense His presence, we will often experience the highest level of joy. Jesus encouraged us to “ask that your joy may be full.” (John 16:24) Those who intentionally pray for the sick, believe God for miracles, expect answers to prayer and act on and believe the word of God, will have joy!
Fifthly, generosity and giving will result in joy. The Bible says that “God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7)Generous people are usually joyful and happy and on the other hand, stingy people are usually miserable and sad. We read about the Children of Israel during the time of King David, “Then the people rejoiced, for that they offered willingly, because with perfect heart they offered willingly to the LORD. (1 Chronicles 29:9) In the days of Nehemiah we have another example of joy being released because of giving. “Also that day they offered great sacrifices, and rejoiced: for God had made them rejoice with great joy … so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard even afar off” (Nehemiah 12:43 )There was great joy, because there was great giving!
Sixthly, the presence of God gives us great joy. This is obvious for the Bible says “In His presence there is fullness of joy.”(Psalms 16:11)Joy is released when we spend time with God in prayer, worship and praise. We also read in the book of Psalms, that “You have made him (the king) exceedingly glad with Your presence.”(Psalm 21:6)The presence of God is also the atmosphere of heaven, which is pure joy! When we spend time with joyful people, we will become joyful We serve an exceptionally joyful God and His joy ‘will rub off’ on us when we spend quality time with Him.
Benefits of joy:
Firstly, joy strengthens us spiritually and increases the level of our anointing.The Bible says that, “the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:11) Joy gives us spiritual strength. Therefore, if we feel weak and discouraged, the best thing we can do is to rejoice. It says of Jesus, “who for the joythat was set before Him endured the cross.”(Hebrews 12:2)The revelation of the joy that lay before Him in eternity, gave Him the strength to endure the terrible suffering that He was about to experience on the cross. Therefore, the experience of joy will also help us to go through difficult times. James says, “Count it all joy when you fall into various temptations or tests.” (James 1:2)
Secondly, joy is a key to victory: InPsalm 149:6-8, we read, “Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, And a two-edged sword in their hand, To execute vengeance on the nations, And punishments on the peoples; To bind their kings with chains, And their nobles with fetters of iron.”
We all know the story of Jehoshaphat, “as they began to sing and rejoice, God then sent His mighty angel to destroy the enemy and give them a great victory.” (2 Chronicles 20:22 ) We also have the example of Paul and Silas in prison. We read, “… at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake…” (Acts 16:25) Angelic activity was released to shake the prison, loosen their chains and open the prison doors. If we want to have more victory in our personal lives and see our churches grow, we need to increase our level of joy in the Lord.
In the Old Testament we read, “Because thou served not the LORD thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things; Therefore, shall thou serve your enemies.” (Deut. 28:47-48) If this is true, then the converse must also be true. We can read this as follows, “Because you served the Lord with joyfulness and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of things given to you, Therefore, you shall have victory over your enemies and they will serve you.” Joy is a powerful weapon against the enemy.
Thirdly, joy enables us to be led by the Holy Spirit.We read again in the Book of Isaiah, “You shall go out with joy (exceeding gladness) and be led forth with peace.”(Isaiah 55:12) If we need direction in our lives, then we should rejoice more, for we shall go out with joy and be led forth with peace. God leads us in an atmosphere of joy and peace. It is difficult to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit if we are always sad and discouraged. Therefore, one of the ways for us to be led by the Holy Spirit, is to build up our level of joy.
Fourthly, joy enables us to influence others for Christ. We read about the Children of Israel in Psalms, “Our mouth was filled with laughter and our tongue with singing. Then they said among the nations, the Lord has done great things for them.” (Psalms 126:2 )Notice, the heathen realized that God was with them and gave them favor because of their laughter, singing and joy. We read in Psalm 40:3, “He has put a new song in my mouth – Praise to our God; Many will see it and fear, and will trust in the Lord.” Our joy can affect the unbelievers around us and even open their hearts to receive Jesus. If we want to reach more people for Christ, we need to increase our level of joy.
Fifthly, joy can even affect our health.We read in Proverbs “A merry heart does good, likemedicine, But a broken spirit dries the bones.” (Another translation says that “a merry heart makes medicine work better.”)(Proverbs 17:22)We have another Proverb that says “Pleasant (joyful or delightful) words are asan honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.” (Proverbs 16:24)It is a medical fact, that joy and happiness releases enzymes that heal the body. It is also a medical fact that the cause of many sicknesses and diseases is as a result of depression and sorrow. I have heard of people being healed of incurable diseases simply by just rejoicing and being happy.
I want to finish off with a beautiful scripture from the Song of Solomon. “For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; The time of singing has come, And the voice of the turtledove Is heard in our land.” (Song of Solomon 2:11-12) Maybe some of us have been through a time of winter, of sadness and weeping. There is a now new season for, a time of summer, a time for singing and joy. Our weeping may have been for a night, but now joy is coming in the morning. (Psalm 30:5)Therefore, let us “Rejoice in the Lord!” (Philippians 4:4). Let us rejoice and be glad, for the joy of the Lord is our strength!