In our second aspect of the Fruit of the Spirit, we discover it is joy! Joy is not happiness, per se, but a bubbling up in the soul contented with God, Himself. If we are lacking joy – know this – it is not because God has moved. Our joy grows in the soil of love for Christ and His Kingdom. If joy is lacking, our heart is seeking affections elsewhere.
Charles Spurgeon, known as the Prince of Preachers of The Metropolitan Tabernacle in England, is one of the most respected of all times. He has written an entire sermon on Galatians 5:22 and here we quote a portion to consider:
Some of you may have muttered while I have been speaking of this joy, “I do not know much about it.” Perhaps not, friend—shall I tell you why? Some people are too full of the joy of the world, the joy of getting on in business, the joy of a large family, the joy of health, the joy of wealth, the joy of human love, or the joy which comes of the pride of life. These joys may be your idols and you know the joy of the Lord will not stand side by side with an idolatrous delight in the things of this world! See to that. Dagon must fall if the Ark of the Lord is present—the world must lose its charms if you are to joy in Christ Jesus.
Our joy is sadly diminished by our unbelief. If you will not believe, neither shall you be established. Ignorance will do the same to a very large extent. Many a Christian has a thousand reasons for joy which he knows nothing of. Study the Word and ask for the teaching of the Spirit of God that you may understand it and so shall you discover wells of delight! Joy is diminished, also, by walking at a distance from God. If you get away from the fire, you will grow cold—the warmest place is right in front of it and the warmest place for a believing heart is close to Christ in daily fellowship with Him. It may be that indulged in sin is spoiling our joy. “This little hand of mine,” as Mr. Whitfield once said, “can cover up the sun as far as my eyes are concerned.”
You have only to lift a naughty, rebellious hand and you can shut out the light of God, Himself—any known sin will do it. Trifling with sin will prove a killjoy to the heart. I believe that many lose the joy of the Lord because they do not put it in the right place. See where it lives. Look at my text—“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy and peace.” There joy stands in the center—“love” is on one side and “peace” on the other! Find a man who never loved anybody and you have found a joyless man. This man’s religion begins and ends with looking to his own safety. The only point he longs to know is—is he saved? He never knows joy, poor creature, how can he? As to peace, where is it? He has none because wherever he goes he growls, grumbles, snarls and barks at everybody. There is no peace where he is! He is always quarrelling and then he says, “I have little joy.”
He does not live in the right house for joy! Joy dwells at No. 2. “Love” is No. 1—“joy” is No. 2—“peace” is No. 3 and if you pull down either of the houses on the side, No. 2, in the middle, will tumble down! Joy is the center of a triplet and you must have it so or not at all—“Love, joy, peace.” Thus I have shown how the growth of joy can be checked. I pray you do not allow such an evil thing to be worked in your heart.
Are you lacking joy in your marriage? Use this checklist to determine where the leak may be:
- Are you full of the joy of the world? The joy of getting on in business? The joy of a large family? The joy of health or wealth? The joy of human [married] love? The joy of the pride of life?
- Are you doubting God in regards to something or someone?
- Are you cold in worship towards God?
- Are you indulging sin in some area of your life?
- Are you lacking in love towards others?
- Are you more concerned with your own welfare than the welfare of those in your care?
- Are you always (or often) grumbling? Complaining?
- Are you lacking peace?
Read this checklist, and see if there is a quickening of the Spirit in regards to any of them. If there is, go after it as if it were a little fox spoiling the vine of this precious fruit. The Fruit of the Spirit is to be enjoyed by all of us including those who know us. Let’s do the hard work and cut out anything in our lives not producing true joy. We must! This is the life Christ died to save, and as we do, our marriages will mature accordingly.
We talked of love last week, today our focus is joy – next week we’ll complete the triplet by discussing “peace”.