Joy

Day 1 of 7 • This day’s reading

Devotional

DAY 1: THE FRUIT OF JOY


Often when we think of joy, we think of an emotion. We have been conditioned to think that joy is a response to something good that has happened, or the result of a favorable set of circumstances. Because we believe that joy is an emotion, we make the mistake of thinking it cannot be controlled. We assume that when things go right in our lives; when God has answered all our prayers, and we are celebrating our victories, joy will come automatically. We tend to believe the opposite is true as well; that if we are in the midst of pain or hardship, or if we are waiting for God to meet a need, that it is impossible to be joyful during that season.


The enemy has convinced us that joy is completely out of our control, and dependent on our circumstances. He has managed for us to regard joy as something out of our reach unless everything in our lives falls into place. And he has deceived us into thinking that unless or until we get what we want we are resigned to a season of sadness, incompleteness, or frustration. Yet, through the verse above, we learn that God's interpretation of joy is very different. His word doesn't describe joy as an emotion ⎯ something fleeting, temporary, or fickle.


It is something good for us. And, most importantly, it is something that can be produced in us. Just as you can produce fruit when there is none, and that fruit can nourish your physical body, the Holy Spirit can produce joy in your heart that can nourish your soul ⎯ even in the darkest of circumstances. The word of God reveals a simple truth that the enemy would never want us to know. And that truth is that God, the creator of joy, did not place joy out of our reach or make its presence in our lives dependent on our circumstances. Instead, He benevolently created the nature of joy (as well as love, patience, goodness, and all the other fruits of the spirit) to be a product of our relationship with Him. That is why you can see people living the most amazing seasons of their lives and still lack joy, while others experience the driest, most painful seasons and somehow remain joyful. 


The latter have learned how to grow the fruit of joy in their lives through the help of the Holy Spirit. They don’t wait for their circumstances to change, telling themselves they will be happier when they get what they are waiting for, or that joy is unobtainable. They have learned to cultivate joy, and therefore enjoy its sweetness during every season of their lives. Joy, like any other fruit, requires intentional choice. In order to reap it we have to make a conscious decision to do so. 


Just as a farmer works all year long to ensure the health of his land, and then carefully, diligently sows his seed, we too must ensure that we have healthy hearts that will allow God to make something grow in them. The fruit of joy will never grow in a heart full of bitterness or malice. Neither can it thrive where there is lack of forgiveness or unwillingness to let the past go.


Today I ask you: are you willing to rise early, and work passionately to provide for your spiritual need of joy? Have you ever considered planting a vineyard of joy for yourself? Not waiting for it to fall into your lap, but actually taking steps to develop a relationship with God that will give fruit?


Prayer:


Holy Spirit, I believe that you are the producer of joy, and I long for you to make my heart fruitful ground, so that I may have joy to nourish my soul, as well as bring joy to others. Make me able to plant a vineyard of joy in my heart. Teach me to do my part, and to plant seeds of joy, and bring growth as you water them with your Spirit. Uproot anything that hinders the growth of my harvest. For joy is your promise to me, and from this day on, I receive it.