“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23a
I remember when I first started coming to church, I was talking to someone (I think maybe Rich K.) and he said something to me about the joy of the Lord. I remember just writing it off because I thought he was just “saying it”. You know? As though feeling joy as the result of believing and following God was inconceivable. I think that I simply wrote off a lot of things I heard in those early days, because I found it hard to believe that you could be joyful and be a Christian. Doesn’t being a Christian mean that you are forced to follow a bunch of rules?
I learned a few months later that the aforementioned joy wasn’t just a part of Christian language, it was really true. And I learned that this joy was so great, so overwhelming, so amazing.
It’s true, what you may have heard, there are a few “rules”. I find that the word rule has too many negative connotations though. I consider God’s “rules” not really to be rules, but rather, some really good advice. Really good advice. In fact, that very advice is what give us such joy. Psalm 19:8 says:
The precepts of the LORD are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the LORD are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.
God’s precepts allow us to see. They are not meant to chain us down but to set us free. Psalm 30:11 says: “You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy.”
And by no means are you forced to follow them… you can do whatever you want! (Just be aware of the consequences, that’s all.)
One of my favourite parables is the one about the hidden treasure:
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.” Matthew 13:44.
I relate to this story so much and every time I read it I am filled with the same excitement as the first time. I, myself, was just walking along minding my own business when I suddenly stumbled upon a hidden treasure. I couldn’t see it before, but there it was! I decided to give up everything for this teasure, and I did it with joy. I wasn’t forced into anything, I chose to follow God, to learn his truths and try to live them.
Allowing God’s Spirit into my heart is what causes me to take his advice, and as a result, I am filled with such joy.