Joy is not something on its own
If we want to have true joy, we need to know how to get it. Joy is not something on its own – there is a reason why we are joyful; joy is the result when we get or achieve something. Therefore, it is useless to try to get joy on its own, we must do the things that are pleasing to God, and this will give us joy.
Paul says in 1 Timothy 6:11 (NIRV), “Try hard to do what is right and godly. Have faith, love and gentleness. Hold on to what you believe.” It is useless to seek joy without these things; that is like trying to pick fruit from a tree without roots. But when we have faith and love and gentleness, and they are growing, then God is pleased with us and that is what gives us joy.
True joy comes from living to please God
Many people want to have joy without living a life that is pleasing to God. That kind of joy will never be more than a human joy. It has nothing to do with the joy that is a fruit of the Spirit.
There are many preachers that try to work up the feelings of their assembly to try to make them feel joy, even when their assembly is full of unrighteousness, greed, immorality, and all kinds of evil. Maybe people will feel joyful for a time, but it is not the joy that is the fruit of the Spirit. It says in Isaiah 1:13 (GNT) that God “cannot stand your … religious gatherings; they are all corrupted by your sins.”
Many people believe that their spiritual state is the same as the joy that they feel at any moment. But the spiritual worth of a person depends on their walk in purity and truth.
Some roots of true joy
Here are some of the roots of true joy in God’s kingdom:
“You should not be happy because the spirits obey you but because your names are written in heaven.” Luke 10:20 (NCV). This joy comes when we are humble and thankful because God took us out of the world and has given us a place in His kingdom.
“When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love... I have told you these things so that... your joy will overflow!” John 15:10-11 (NLT). This joy is a result when we are obedient to God’s will. If we are obedient, we will have joy. And if we have this joy, we don’t need to try to be glad. When we have to “try” to be glad, this shows that we are not obedient. Become obedient to God’s Word, and joy will come.
“You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness (evil); therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.” Hebrews 1:9 (NIV). A person is anointed with the oil of joy, which means he is full of joy, if he hates evil and loves righteousness. We have to reject all the evil that is in the world, in ourselves, in the religious world – from the speaker’s platform as well as in the assembly – we should spare nothing, and the Lord will make us full of joy.
Unfortunately, only a few people have the courage to reject foolishness even if they see it; that is why they don’t get this joy, and seek it in some other way. But if they had loved righteousness, they would have rejected all the evil they saw. Psalm 118:15 (ESV) says, “Glad songs of salvation are in the tents of the righteous.” This joy is a fruit of the Spirit.
“We announce to you what we have seen and heard, because we want you also to have fellowship with us. Our fellowship is with God the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to you so you can be full of joy with us.” 1 John 1:3-4 (NCV). And in 1 John 1:7 it is written that if we walk in the light, if we live our life according to the Word of God, we will have a pure fellowship with one another.
Such a pure fellowship makes us full of joy. This joy is not a noisy joy, but a quiet joy where we trust each other because we live our life according to God’s Word, and no one hides anything in the darkness.
“I have no greater joy than this: to hear that my children are living according to the truth.” 3 John 1:4 (CEB). God has no greater joy than that His children are living according to the truth, and for John it was the same. If you want to have this joy that John called the greatest, then you have to live according to the truth yourself; then this joy will be the fruit of a life in godly fear.
We see that true joy is a result of obeying God and His Word, of living a God-fearing life. And the more obedient we are, the greater our joy becomes.