By: Raychel Chumley
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23
Joy (Noun): A feeling of great happiness (Webster’s Dictionary)
The word “Joy” is mentioned over 200 times in the Bible! The Greek word used in Galatians 5:22 is the word “Chara.” It means specifically joy, rejoicing, happiness, gladness, filled with joy, and happy.
What I find so interesting is that this Greek word for joy, “Chara”, is a noun. Some Greek words for joy are verbs but not in this context. Why is that interesting? Because a noun is a part of speech that refers to a person, place, thing or concept. A verb indicates action. In short, a noun is something you have or are…not something you do.
When Paul writes the fruit of the Spirit is Joy, he means you as a woman should BE joy…not just act joyful. The very essence of who you are should be happiness, gladness, and rejoicing.
One of the definitions of happiness is “a state of well-being and contentment.” This gives you your first clue to the kind of joy and happiness Paul is describing. Happiness is not a sticky sweet emotion that you spill all over everyone as you skip down the road completely clueless to the trials and difficulties around you. Happiness does not mean you deny anger, hurt, and sadness when the situations in your life get too tough to handle.
There are dark things that happen in our world.
You will experience death and destruction and trials of all kind. We all will. Paul doesn’t say that he wants you to be happy about these things. No one is happy when bad things happen. This is circumstantial happiness. This is not the kind of “Happy” Paul is talking about when he say the fruit of the spirit is joy.
Happiness is being content and well in your soul despite your circumstances. This is true JOY! Joy means you choose to have a good attitude when others around you don’t. Joy means you rejoice because God is good even when your circumstances are not. Joy means you are content because you know God is in control and is going to do something great in your life. This is the kind of happiness the spirit of joy brings into your life.
Cultivating a Spirit of Joy…
When I think about cultivating a spirit of joy I am reminded that we are changing our thoughts and behaviors to be more like Jesus. He is the very model of joy. You, my dear lady, will want to start practicing the very things Jesus did to cultivate the spirit of joy in your own life.
- Stay connected to the Father-Jesus was in constant relationship with his Heavenly Father. He practiced spiritual disciplines like reading the Word and praying even in his busiest seasons of ministry. You can do no less. This is not a time issue. This is a “Power” issue. You have to stay plugged in to your power source to let HIM start to change your thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors. This should be a priority when you are trying to grow the spirit of joy in your life.
- Practice gratitude-When Jesus prayed he always gave thanks first. This is an important thing for us to notice and start practicing. Start a “Gratitude Journal.” Recording things you are grateful for every single day will not only cultivate a spirit of joy in your life, it will combat things like depression and anxiety. Gratitude takes the focus off of your immediate problems and helps you focus on your blessings instead. Being grateful allows you to experience pain, grief, anger, and disappoint in a healthy way instead of letting bitterness take root.
- Give of yourself to others-Jesus was the perfect example of giving yourself to others. He constantly gave to those around him. How did he do it? He stayed connected to the Father for his strength. You have to do the same thing! Take the focus off of you and your problems once in a while and focus on someone else for a change. The more outside your comfort zone the better. Teach that Sunday school class, volunteer at the food pantry, pay for someone’s coffee at Starbucks, bring a meal to an elderly neighbor. There are hundreds of ways to give to someone else…you just have use your imagination.
Joy means being content and well in your spirit despite your circumstances. Joy means having a spirit of happiness, gladness, and rejoicing. Joy is something you are not something you do. You can be joyful because you know you serve a great God even when your circumstances are not. This is the true joy of a woman living beautifully whole.