How can we, as Christians, be joyful through it all? There is so much going on in this world and around us that can make us unhappy. There is so much ugliness to confront on a daily basis.
James 1:2 (KJV) “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations.”
What? I am being told to be joyful when everything around me is going wrong? Yes, that is exactly what the verse is saying.
Galatians 5:22-26 (KJV) “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, (23) Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. (24) And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. (25) If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. (26) Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.”
Joy is a fruit of the Spirit. We often consider happiness or joy as something that happens to us, not something that should flow from us or something we have control over. We don’t consider joy as a duty to be performed, but as an emotional state to be received passively and involuntarily. But when we look at the concept of joy in the Bible, it is expressed as an imperative, something we do by faith and in our works.
Unhappiness and a lack of joy, in many circumstances, is of the flesh. Certainly, there are times when we feel sorrow. Jesus Himself was called a man of sorrows. The Scripture tells us that it is better to go to the house of mourning than to spend our days in the house of feasting. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” We must understand that it is legitimate to feel sorrow and grief. But we can have a sense of joy even in the midst of mourning and profound grief. This is because our sorrow is directed toward a circumstance, but our joy is focused on and flows from God and our faith in Him.
Joy, therefore, not being opposed to sorrow, is a fruit of the Spirit. It is our duty to be joyful: “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” Being joyful is a matter of the will. The key to being joyful all the time is “in the Lord.” If Christ is in me and I in Him, that relationship is constant. Therefore, there is always a reason for joy. That is why, in the midst of difficulties, we can rejoice in Christ—or because He is always present in us.
The Christian life is not to be dour and miserable. It will often be sorrowful, but it should always be filled with joy that flows from Jesus Christ. Be joyful!