the true source of godly joy (1 peter 1:8-9)

May 30th, 2024

8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

A while back when I was just a young Christian still learning the ways of Christianity, I knew of this woman who went to our church. In every interaction I had with her I was always overwhelmed by her deep sense of joy and happiness. She greeted everyone she knew with a long tight hug and told them that she loved them. At that time I didn't know everything about being a believer but I did know that this kind of joyous expression must be caused by a strong relationship with the Lord. 

At one time, I was invited to their home to help them because they were moving out. In the middle of our lifting and carrying away of items she stopped to give us some water. Then, just as we were about to get up and go again with more boxes, she stopped us once more and said "Wait! I have to show you something". She then proceeded to pick up her big Bible with a ginormous smile on her face. She said "I have to show you this scripture I found today". Of course I was thinking to myself, maybe this isn't the best time to be doing a Bible study. However, she was bursting with energy in her seat as she flipped back and forth to find her passage. She finally got to the right page and read the passage aloud for us. Once she finished reading she could not stop smiling and said "How amazing is that?". She was almost moved to joyful tears in the middle of what should have been a stressful evening of moving. All because she wanted to share a small passage from the Bible.

I have treasured this moment for so many years because she taught me something important that evening. Through her undivided love for the Lord, she proved to me that joy is not circumstantial. Joy in the Lord is a gift we can experience at any given moment. And since that day I have learned my real issue. It is not that I needed more time or had to wait for certain things to align in my life for me to experience true God-given joy. It is simply that I relied too heavily on the outcomes of this life to make me feel happiness and grant me a sense of joy. The only sure path to joy is to root ourselves firmly in the Lord. To understand this we must do two things: define the word "joy" and then explain it's connection to the Lord.

What do we mean by Christian joy? We would describe it as a state of strong feelings that produce an overflowing happiness in the heart and attitude of a person. Maybe some of us wouldn't like to define joy as feelings since that might seem temporary. Let us be clear, we do not root our faith in our feelings, rather, we root our feelings in our faith. Faith in the Lord is the root while godly affections and feelings are the fruit. This should make sense since having joy is one of the fruits of having God's Holy Spirit within us (Galatians 5:22). Therefore, true joy is an inner feeling that produces real physical expressions in a person. We can sing for joy, we can rejoice in joy, we can shout for joy, we can be filled with gladness and satisfaction with joy. The book of proverbs even writes "a joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones" (Proverbs 17:22). And so, the experience of godly joy is not an abstract thought; it is a real expression from deep within us.

Now that we have identified that godly joy is a fruit, we must now turn to defining the root. We all know that the root of any plant is barely visible to the eye because it is buried deep beneath the ground. This is the same idea connected to our faith in Jesus Christ. Though we cannot see Him, the root of His holy presence is buried deep within the soils of our heart. Therefore, we don't need to see anything real in this earthly life to invoke some temporary feeling of joy. We need not look toward some external form of entertainment and happiness, we have something far greater hidden within us. The Bible says, greater is He who lives in me than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4). Every single believer holds within their heart the very presence of Jesus. There is nothing and no one else that we need. If we are finding it hard to have joy, it is always because we have been fixing our eyes on something or someone other than Jesus Christ (Hebrews 12:2)

I certainly believe that walking in godly joy will be a constant struggle. But each of us hold the ability to shift our attitude at any given moment. We do not have to choose sadness and discouragement, we can always choose joy in the Lord. Are you rooting your happiness in how you feel that particular day? What is it in your own life that you have allowed to frequently rob you of your joy in Jesus? Be reminded today that it is only in loving Christ and believing in Christ that we shall be filled with an expressible and glorious joy. Even in the middle of life's distress, we can always know that He saved us and He has loved us with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3).

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