“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” -Galatians 5:22
If you are like me and grew up in the church, we grew up hearing that joy was a fruit of the spirit. However, while we may have heard that, I think many of us were taught that joy is an emotion. What does it mean to have joy? You see, I think for so many of us, we have a misconception of the word joy. In the world, we are taught that joy and happiness are synonymous, but they are not. I think in order to start understanding joy, we must first redefine it. Joy is not an emotion. It is a fruit of the Spirit. Joy is felt in the presence of God; happiness is in the presence of circumstances. I believe that in order for us to feel the joy of the Lord we have to redefine joy in our minds. We have to recognize that joy is not the same thing as happiness.
Happiness is a feeling. It is fleeting; it comes and goes as it pleases. People can take it from you. People can give it to you. Joy is a fruit of the spirit. It can be felt in all aspects of emotion and life. As you spend more time with Jesus, you find more joy. Joy can be a part of anger, sadness, and worry. Happiness is not. Happiness is always based on circumstance.
How do we receive joy? The only way is through God. God's joy is what gives us the ability to feel joy. Maybe this holiday season you are not in the best place. Maybe you are struggling, and it feels like it is impossible to feel joy with whatever circumstances you are in. I encourage you to ask the Lord not to make you happy, but to give you His joy. It is not about our happiness, but about receiving God's joy. I encourage you to ask God to bring you joy in the midst of whatever trial, sadness or worry you are experiencing. After all, Christmas is about joy, not happiness.
What does it mean to you to redefine joy?