SPIRITUAL NOURISHMENT FOR TODAY (November 9, 2013)
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another” Galatians 5:22-26.
“SINCE WE LIVE BY THE SPIRIT, LET US KEEP IN STEP WITH THE SPIRIT” Galatians 5:25 (NIV).
In the last edition of Spiritual Nourishment for Today, we discussed LOVE as part of the FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT. We established that the Christian love is AGAPE. It is triune as the nature of God. It is love for God, love for mankind and love one one’s self. Today we want to take a look at JOY as part of the FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT. It is very important to discuss this issue because many Christians do not really understand what Christian joy is all about.
Joy is one of the fundamental virtues of Christianity. It is a virtue every Christian should have but not everyone understands it. Every Christian should be joyful because of what God has done for us through Christ.
The Greek word for JOY is ‘CHARA’. It shares the same root with ‘CHARIS’ which is translated GRACE. This shows a connection between the two words. CHRISTIANS CAN EXPERIENCE JOY THROUGH THE GRACE OF GOD. Without the grace of God we have no basis to be joyful. Therefore everyone who believes he has been saved by the grace of God through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ on the cross should be joyful at all times. This is based on the understanding that we all sinned and were condemned to death (Romans 3:23; 6:23) but God showed us his grace when he sent his son Jesus Christ into the world to save us. Therefore our natural response to what God has done for us should be a showing of gratitude to God. This is manifested through the joy in our hearts and on our faces.
What Christ has done for us and what he will do for us at the end of time is something which should always motivate us to rejoice. If we have hope in what God has planned for us, then there is no need to worry about anything but rather rejoice in him. That is why Paul exhorted the Philippians: “REJOICE IN THE LORD ALWAYS. I WILL SAY IT AGAIN, REJOICE!” Philippians 4:4. We should always rejoice by showing gratitude to God for what he has done for us.
Christians need to be joyful not only because of what God has done, and will continue to do for us, but also because of what God has done in others or using others for. This is a true virtue of a Christian. We need to express joy when God does something good for others and rejoice with them. Unfortunately this has not always been the case. Sometimes we are unhappy because something good happened to others and not to us. We get angry and jealous because someone is having a more flourishing career than ours or enjoying his or her marriage while ours are in bad shape. This is evil-mindedness. We should learn to rejoice and thankful to God for the good things he is doing in and through others. We should rejoice at the spiritual gifts God has given others and praise the Lord for us. We should feel jealous and say bad things about others because they are doing something we cannot do. When we rejoice at the gifting of others as well as the good things God is doing in others, we will be showing our trust in God as the father of every good thing (James 1:17).
IF YOU DON’T REJOICE WHEN GOOD THINGS HAPPEN TO OTHERS, NOTHING GOOD CAN HAPPEN TO YOU, THIS IS A SPIRITUAL TRUTH!
Many Christians rejoice when good things happen to them. This is natural and there is nothing wrong about that. Even unbelievers have the same feeling of joy when good things come their way. One of the fundamental differences between the Christian and the non-Christian is that whereas non-Christians rejoice only when good things happen to them, Christians rejoice in all seasons.
We find this idea in what Paul said in Philippians 4:4. We are not to be thankful only when good things happen to us, but even in our difficult times, we are to be joyful. This is because we know that our lives are in the hands of the Lord and he directs them to the rightful end. Therefore whatever we experience in life, whether they seem good or bad in our views, will end in our good. Scripture encourages us in Romans 8:28: “AND WE KNOW THAT IN ALL THINGS GOD WORKS FOR THE GOOD OF THOSE WHO LOVE HIM, WHO HAVE BEEN CALLED ACCORDING TO HIS PURPOSE.” This should spur us on to endure hardships through joy because we know that God is working for our good.
This is supported by what Apostle James said in James 1:2: “CONSIDER IT PURE JOY, MY BROTHERS, WHEN YOU FACE TRAILS OF MANY KINDS.” This shows that the Christian shall go through many trials but should remain joyful because in the end, we SHALL LACK NOTHING! ONE IMPORTANT REASON FOR WHICH WE MUST REJOICE IN OUR DIFFICULT MOMENTS IS THAT WE DEMONSTRATE OUR DEPENDENCE ON GOD TELLING HIM “I KNOW MY REDEEMER LIVES….” (Job 19:25). This why Nehemiah encouraged the people that: “THE JOY OF THE LORD IS MY STRENGTH” (Nehemiah 8:10). It is only our joy in the Lord which will give us the strength to overcome the challenges we face in life. But as Scripture says, my people perish for lack of knowledge.
Many people continue to go through unending hardships because they do not have the joy of the Lord. Instead of rejoicing in the Lord they get mad at him and even put him aside trying to do things in their own way. If you will be begin to draw closer to the Lord and rejoice in what he has done for you, he will redeem you from what you are going through now.
Believers can experience the joy of the Lord when we learn to pray and intercede for each other and also share the gospel with others. This is because as we pray for each other and begin to see what God is doing in others, we shall be better encouraged to trust God the more. In the same way as the gospel is preached and people get saved we can always rejoice as God and the host of angels rejoice at the salvation of a single soul. We should begin to understand what God has done for us and is still doing for us and be thankful to God for that. If we learn to count our blessings and not our problems, we shall be magnifying God and not our problems. But if we dwell on the problems, they shall continue to increase and get worse and worse with time. Therefore let us all appreciate the goodness of the Lord always and be joyful in Christ. We should not make our problems greater than God. We should magnify God in all circumstances.
In a world where everything is moving very fast, we are likely to get easily irritated at the slightest disruption. But we should not allow the world to determine the pace at which we move. If we do that we shall be frustrated. Therefore CHRISTIANS SHOULD RELAX AND ENJOY THE LIFE GOD GIVES US ON DAILY BASIS. We should begin each day with JOY thanking God for what he has done and what he will do for us. We should learn to slow down and enjoy our journey into the Kingdom of God. Don’t let the things of this world frustrate you! Your destination is the Kingdom of God, so relax and allow God to direct your life. Trust that there is nothing too hard for him to do. There is no problem you cannot overcome in this life if you will trust in God.
So BE REMINDED BY THIS:
“REJOICE IN THE LORD ALWAYS, I WILL SAY AGAIN, REJOICE! DON’T LET THE THINGS OF THIS WORLD FRUSTRATE YOU AT ANY POINT IN YOUR LIFE! LEARN TO SMILE AND SHOW THE WORLD HOW GOD IT IS TO BE A CHILD A CHILD OF GOD!”
THE WORD OF THE LORD!
Pastor Nana Kobina Baisie
Teacher/Pastor at Nadrim Mission International School, Busan, Korea.