The Believer's Joy
Many people in the church believe that the more
religious a person becomes the more somber and joyless they are.
They have a number of unpleasant experiences upon which to base
their opinion. This opinion is not true regarding true believers.
True believers do not find joy in many things where unbelievers find
theirs. It is rare for unbelievers to be present at those times and
places where believers experience their joy.
Equating joy with happiness is another
common mistake. Happiness depends almost exclusively on "happenings"
such as good health, good friends, abundant finances, and
possessions, etc. Happiness and unhappiness cannot exist together,
but as we shall see, joy and sorrow can.
God Is the Source of the Believer’s Joy
Once in Leviticus and seven times in
Deuteronomy, Israel is commanded, "Rejoice
in the LORD thy God…"
As Israel thought of all their God was
to them and had done for them they would be deeply moved to grateful
joy. God encouraged them to let that joy be uninhibited. It
was common for sincere Israelite believers to be so motivated with
joy that they would sing; shout; clap their hands; dance and even
leap for joy, "And David was dancing before the LORD with all his
might… So David and all the house of Israel were bringing up the ark
of the LORD with shouting and the sound of the trumpet." 2nd
Samuel 6:114, 5. Psalm 33:1-3. "O clap your hands, all peoples;
Shout to God with the voice of joy. For the LORD Most High is
awesome; He is a great King over all the earth." Psalm 47:1,2.
"Sing aloud to God our strength; Make a joyful shout to the God
of Jacob. Raise a song, strike the timbrel, The pleasant harp
with the lute." Psalm 81:1,2
"Make a joyful shout to the LORD, all
Serve the Lord with gladness: Come before His presence with singing."
We are told by the prophet, Zephaniah, that God
finds great personal joy when His sincere believers worship Him with
gladness and rejoicing. "Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O
Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of
"The LORD your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will
save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet
you with His love,
He will joy over you with singing." Zephaniah 3:17. A
preacher friend of mine testified, "When we began worshipping God
with praise songs and just expressing our love to Him with all our
heart it seems God was pleased and He would come down and bless us
as never before." The scriptures also tell us, "In your presence
is fullness of joy" Psalms 16:11.
True Believers In Israel Experienced Great Joy
When David killed the giant, Goliath, and led
Israel in victory over the Philistines they were greeted with songs
of rejoicing on their return. (1st Kings18:6,7).
The crowning of Solomon brought such joy to many
in Israel that the earth shook from their singing and shouting (1st
Kings 1:39, 40).
When the people of Israel gave an abundant free
will offering to build the Temple they rejoiced greatly (1st
Chronicles 29:9). After the Temple had been destroyed and lay
desolate for seventy years a remnant returned and laid the
foundation for it’s rebuilding. It was a time of great joy.
God delivered Israel from impending destruction
through the spiritual and physical efforts of Mordecai and Esther.
There was inexpressible joy. (Esther 8:15-17).
Jesus Knew Joy In The Midst of Sorrow
God had revealed through the prophet Isaiah that
the Messiah or Christ would be, "A man of sorrows and acquainted
with grief." Yet, we find that fullness of joy also filled
Jesus described Himself as "the bridegroom"
in answer to the question as to why He did not fast. He shared that
He came "eating and drinking" and this had given occasion to
a charge that He was "a gluttonous man and a winebibber" (Matthew
Our Savior was most congenial at social
activities, especially at the wedding of Cana. (John 2:1-11; Mark
14:3; Luke 14:1) He spoke of "my joy" which He
would give to His believers. (John 15:11; 16:24; 17:13)
The time of our Savior’s greatest grief and
sorrow was the time leading up to His crucifixion. Yet, in the midst
of this we are informed in Hebrews 12:2 that at the very same time,
". . .who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross,
despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the
throne of God."
Jesus taught that the believers eternal reward
for faithful service is described as, "enter into the joy of
your Lord". (Matthew 25:21, 23).
Christians Are To Experience Great Joy
What joy the disciples of Jesus had passed under
a dark cloud of hopeless gloom following His death and burial. They
believed the prophecies (about Him reigning as King over Israel and
the entire earth) were to shortly come to pass. They could not
reconcile their expectations with His death and burial. But when
Jesus rose again and began to appear to His disciples and teach them
God’s purposes and plans their joy knew no bounds. "And they
returned to Jerusalem with great joy." Luke 24:52. From
that point joy became an abiding quality of those early Christians.
Perhaps the best way to grasp the joy of Christians is to
list the most significant areas of Christian joy.
The 119th Psalm is a poem of 176
verses in praise of God’s word. It abounds with such phrases as, "I
have inherited Thy testimonies forever, For they are the
joy of my heart."
- Christians Receive Joy From God’s Word
It is the word of God that gives a lost person
faith to trust God for salvation. "So faith comes from hearing,
and hearing by the word of Christ." Romans 10:17.
We have the record of Philip being driven out
of Jerusalem by persecution. He went to Samaria and preached the
gospel of Christ. The Samaritans received his message and placed
their faith in Christ. As a result, "There was great joy in
that city." Acts 8:8.
After the Philippian jailer and his family
placed trust in Christ they got baptized the same night. The
jailer brought Paul and Silas "into his house and set food
before them and rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household."
Christians also receive joy from the word of
God as daily spiritual food for their souls. The first Psalm
underscores this fact powerfully;
"Blessed is the man who
walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of
sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful;. But his delight is in
the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night."
Christians Find Joy in Their Salvation
Isaiah, the prophet, wrote in 12:3, "Therefore
with joy you will draw water from the wells of
salvation." Jesus said, "…rejoice that your names are
recorded in heaven .Luke 10:20
The apostle, John, wrote, "That which
we have seen
and heard, we declare to you that you also may have
fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father,
and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you, that
your joy may be full". 1st John
1:3,4. Salvation brings us into a fellowship that includes the
heavenly Father and His Son along with our fellow believers. This
provides an opportunity for the fullness of joy. (See Romans
Christians Find Joy In Answered Prayer
Jesus spent His last evening before His
crucifixion with His disciples in the upper room. What He said to
His disciples that evening have endured as some of the most
comforting words in all the Bible. The words of Jesus concerning
prayer were especially a new revelation that sounded too good to
be true: "And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that
the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My
name, I will do it." John 14:13,14. We can only imagine how
astonishing these words were to those who heard them for the first
The climax of Jesus’ new teaching on prayer
came in John, chapter 16: 23, 24. "And in that day you will ask Me nothing.
Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father
in My name, He will give you.. Until now you
have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be made full." John would later record
that asking in Jesus’ name includes asking according to the will
of God (1st John 5:14).
Imagine the joy of a class of people who
daily make requests from God in prayer and receive what they ask.
Every true believer in Jesus Christ has the promise that this
privilege is theirs.
Christians Find Joy in Lost Souls Getting Saved
Jesus spoke of the joy known only to
those who give themselves to helping lost souls get saved.
"Already he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit
for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice
together." John 4:36. He referred to the harvest of
Samaritan souls that was then in progress.
The apostle Paul wrote to the Christians at
Thessalonica and spoke of the eternal joy that was his as a
result of winning them to Christ. "For what is our hope or joy
or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our
Lord Jesus at His coming? For you are our glory and joy.""
1st Thessalonians 2:19-20.
Christians Find Joy in the Lord’s Blessing On Their
Paul often mentioned the joy he
experienced as a result of what God was doing in the lives of
those he had won to Christ. "For what thanks can we render to
God for you, for all the joy with which we rejoice for your
sakes before our God. " 1ST Thessalonians
3:9. We also note this statement by John, "I have no greater
joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth."3rd John verse 4.
Christians Find Joy in Giving In the
Spirit of Christ
"…and remember the words of the Lord Jesus,
that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to
receive.’" Acts 20:35
generation of Christians set an example that has seldom been equaled. "Nor was
there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were
possessors of land or
houses sold them and brought the proceeds of the things that were
laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to
each, as anyone had need." Acts 4:34, 35, 36. When the gentile
Christians of Macedonia matched those first Jewish Christians in
cheerful giving Paul described it, "that in great trial of
affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty
abounded in the riches of their liberality." 2 Corinthians
Christians Even Find Joy In Trials and Persecutions
Note that Jesus taught His followers,
"Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude
you, and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Song of Man's
sake. . Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for
indeed, your reward is great in heaven…" Luke 6:22, 23.
The Christian also knows that trials produce
perseverance, character and hope (Romans 5:3,4; James 1:2-4). As a
result the Christian can rejoice that God allows them to
experience these things to become a stronger and better
representative of Jesus Christ.
Few Christians are living up to their privilege
of boundless joy. They allow unpleasant circumstances to grab their
focus and rob them of their joy. They need to realize that joy is a
practice of faith to which they can rise in the midst of the most
depressing situations. By faith we can practice the command
"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!"
Copyright © 2002 Thomas E Berry
All Scriptures quoted from NKJV unless otherwise noted
Copyright © 2008 Truth Helpers Inc.