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 you lands. Serve the Lord with gladness: Come before His presence with singing." Psalm 100:1,2

     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 Jerusalem…"  Zephaniah 3:14.  "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. (Ezra 3:12).

     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 our Savior.

     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 11:19)

     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.

  1. Christians Receive Joy From God’s Word

    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."
    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." Acts 16:34

    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."

  2. 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 5:11)

  3. 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 time.

    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.


  4. 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.

  5. Christians Find Joy in the Lord’s Blessing On Their Labors.

    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

    The first 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 sold, and 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 8:2

  6. 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!" Philippians 4:4.

Copyright © 2002 Thomas E Berry
All Scriptures quoted from NKJV unless otherwise noted

    Copyright © 2008 Truth Helpers Inc.