Joy —God’s joy— is something most of us don’t seem to have enough of, but truly need more of. The purpose of our joy is not just to make us “feel good” in difficult seasons, but to literally drive the way we view life and live it out for the glory of God’s kingdom. We have the blueprint in none other than Jesus himself.
Therefore, seeing we also are compassed about by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
For consider Him that endured such contradiction from sinners against Himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Hebrews 12:1-3 (my bold)
The believer’s joy, to which the word rejoiceis related, is twofold. First, it offers you a picture of life as it is while simultaneously comforting you in this certain knowledge: no matter what you endure or where you are, even in the midst of all of the “trials and tribulations”, you will be all right. Take a look in the mirror and tell yourself that real quick! Secondly, it reinforces truth. Knowing that God’s law is the natural foundation for peace, prosperity and contentment settles you as you go through. Fundamentally, the joy that Im talking about is a peace of mind in absolutely certain knowledge that, at the end of it all, eternal life with Christ awaits those who are obedient to the will of God
Joy isnt synonymous with happiness. Too many (saints?) are lusting after happiness, but have no joy. Happiness is based on circumstances. If my circumstances turn out good, then I’m happy. If my circumstances turn out bad, then I’m not happy. The etemology of happiness has its roots in a 1520’s phrase which meant “good fortune”.
But how does that square with 1 Thessalonians 5:18 which says in everything (literally every circumstance) give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you?
Well, it can’t because it has a source malfunction. While the pursuit of happiness is based on the vicissitudes of life, joy is based on an unchanging and eternal God. Thus, circumstances do not affect my joy.
Purpose driven joy immediately takes control when life threatens to overwhelm you. When the enemy comes in like a flood. When you have lost something you feel is valuable to you. When things don’t happen like you want them to happen when you want them to happen.
My goal isnt simply to define joy for you, but to remind you of the purpose —and power— of joy.
David wrote: “Thou dost show me the path of life; in Thy presence there is fullness of joy, in Thy right hand are pleasures for evermore.” (Psalm 16:11 RSV)
You can run a check to see if your joy is righteous. Check to see if when troubles show up, you seek circumstantial relief or do you hunker down and cling to the promises of God. If you are able to know and confess to yourself that what God has done before, he can do again, your joy is right. If you can take it a step further and confess that even if he doesn’t change the situation, he is still able (reference Daniel 3:16-18), your joy is show nuff right!
David does really set forth a picture of the inner workings of joy. He was a man much acquainted with trouble and pains. Yet his confession always extolled the law of the Lord as his hope for resolution.
The law of The Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of The Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of The Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of The Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of The Lord is clean, enduring for ever; the ordinances of The Lord are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.” Psalm 19
Joy is not ours, it is God’s gift to us. In other words, we have no ability to produce this joy on our own. God gives us his supernatural joy to help us navigate through the pitfalls of our sojourn. Joy then isnt the product of the natural mind but the product of the Holy Ghost. If it is not a product of the natural mind, then pursuing any solution apart from the guidance of the Holy Ghost will produce very limited and pale imitations of what God intended for you to experience.
The concept of joy as expressed in the Bible contains a wealth of synonymous terms but they cannot easily be differentiated. The commonest is simchah translated as “joy,” “gladness,” “mirth”. Then there’s sameah, which means “to be bright,” “to shine”, but generally used figuratively “to rejoice,” “be glad”. These definitions only define the expression of joy, but its purpose. In this regard, the Word of God presents a much more complex virtue than any definition can adequately express.
Purpose driven joy then is a result of our seeking first the kingdom of God. Too many of us seek after things that do not satisfy. But when we seek God and our place with him, we discover that life really is beautiful (smile right there). We become focused on God and the things of God. We become what I would call seeking saints. We seek to please God and consequently find a reciprocity of joy in our own lives.
Biblical joy is inseparable from right relationship with God. If God is actually present and active in our lives, the joy He experiences is fulfilled in us PS 16:11. Joy is the sign that your life has truly found its purpose! This, too, is a revelation of God, for no one can come to Him and find the purpose of life unless He, by His Spirit, calls and reveals it.
Purposeful joy motivates us to serve God and accomplish his purpose in our lives.
How could Jesus have joy in the situation he was in? It was excruciating becoming King of kings, Lord of lords and our High Priest—the Savior of all mankind. There was a preordained joy in him that confirmed the cross ordeal would come to pass, thus fulfilling the will of God. There was joy in heaven that the plan of God was moving forward, and God would then have more sons and daughters. His suffering on his cross produced joy unspeakable in us as we carry ours.
Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord.