Joy to The World
The Bible provides three significant accounts surrounding the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Luke 2:8-12 narrates the joyous countenance of the shepherds at the announcement of the birth of Jesus. Luke 1:41-44 also recounts Elizabeth’s (and her fetus’) joyful expression at the news that her cousin, Mary, carried the coming Messiah. In Matthew 2:7-10, Bible indicates that at the sight of the star, the wise men, “rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.” Consistently, Bible emphasizes that Jesus’s birth was characterized by joy.
Jesus’ life and ministry on Earth was also marked by joy. Though His purpose was to die a painful and humiliating death, the Bible tells us His life was full of joy. Prior to His crucifixion, in John 17:13, He prayed for His disciples, “But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.” Though His death was imminent and inevitable, the Gospel of Luke states, Jesus was full of joy and the Holy Spirit! You cannot have the Holy Spirit and not have joy for the Holy Spirit produces joy in your life. (Gal. 5:22) The joy Jesus possessed was a result of His relationship with the Father. So also, that joy is accessible to us when we strengthen our connection to the Father through the Holy Spirit.
Kay Warren, author of Choose Joy, defines joy as, “the settled assurance that God is in control of every detail of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything will be alright and the determined choice to praise God in all things.” Another defines this, “Joy is an emotion that resides deep in your soul produced by the Holy Spirit which focuses on Jesus Christ.” If the Holy Spirit produces joy, then it follows that joy is not temporary; it is not transient. Happiness is based on happenings, but joy comes from deep within. Joy is a choice; a daily choice. It emanates as a result of the presence of God – i.e. the Holy Spirit, that dwells in you. Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22); Paul also states in Romans 14:17 that “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Joy isn’t hinged on our circumstances, but the faithfulness of God, therefore, as Paul states in 1 Thessalonians 5:16, rejoice always; irrespective of the circumstances.
The toils and struggles of life are bound to happen, but we must resolve to remain in joy. We know our adversary comes to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10); he will try to rob you of your joy. Know this - real joy in Christ cannot be stolen. Paul an apostle who spent most of his ministry being persecuted, lashed and tortured heartens us to rejoice in our sufferings (2 Cor. 11:25-28; Phil. 4:4) While the enemy may seek to destroy things in your life, decide to remain in joy. There are many things that drain us of our joy- anxiety, resentment, confusion; we all face difficulties in life. It is easy to let the pressures of life weigh us down and become negative or discouraged. God does not intend for us to live life depressed and dispirited. We were created to enjoy life.
Joy is a powerful tool; seek to maintain joy by abiding in Jesus. (John 15:5) To abide is to live in His presence daily. In His presence, there is the fullness of joy. (Ps. 16:11) Abiding in Christ allows you to bear the fruit of joy for the world needs joy! When we decided to abandon the world and chose to follow Christ, we chose to live a life of joy. We must endeavor to be couriers of joy because the Holy Spirit who produces life-sustaining joy resides in us. Joy has a voice and must be expressed. (Ps. 9:2; Ps. 32:1; Ps. 68:4) For expressing our joy attracts people to the kingdom of God.
Begin this year with the determination that 2020 will be your year of joy. Make the decision to be and remain joyful. Spread joy wherever you go. If Paul could do it naked, we can do it clothed. If Paul could remain joyful in prison, we can do it as we live freely in the land of the free. If Paul could do it bruised and tortured, we can do it in spite of our circumstances. “Rejoice always, again I say rejoice.”