by Duane Nelsen
As believers walk by the power of the indwelling Spirit of God, the character of Christ is produced within (Gal. 5:22-25). Joy is the second virtue listed in the fruit of the Spirit.
The joy believers have is greater and more lasting than the joy of the world. The unbeliever’s joy is based primarily on temporary circumstances. When things go well, there is a measure of happiness, but when things go badly, the unbeliever has no solid foundation for joy. In contrast, while believers experience very real pain and sorrow (broken relationships, sickness, disease, a wandering child, the death of a loved one), there remains an unshakable foundation for rejoicing. The passing circumstances of this life, as real and painful as they can be, cannot annihilate believers’ main reasons for joy.
Believers have many reasons for joy. Here are just a few. First, believers can and should rejoice in the Lord and the greatness of His salvation. Think about it. In His matchless grace, God has made us, who were once children of the devil on our way to hell, His dearly loved children through faith in Christ. Not only are we God’s children today; we will remain His beloved children forever (Rom. 8:35-39). As the hymn goes, “redeemed, redeemed, His child and forever I am.”
Believers can rejoice in the proclamation of the Gospel. Paul said he rejoiced that Christ was proclaimed even though the motives of the preachers were anything but perfect (Phil. 1:18). If Christ and the true Gospel are proclaimed, believers have a reason to rejoice.
A fellow believer walking in truth is another reason for rejoicing. John said that he was very glad to hear of believers walking in the truth of God (3 John). Because believers love one another, we should rejoice when another does well (1 Cor. 12:25-26). And since the best thing for another person is to walk in the truth, we rejoice in this.
Believers can rejoice in trials. Difficulties are not fun, but because we understand that it is God's all-wise, loving, and sovereign hand that brings everything into our lives, we can rejoice. When we think biblically, we realize that even the hardest times are for our good. Romans 8:28 is a well-known verse, but how easy it is to forget when trials come. This truth does not remove the pain of the hardship, but it gives reason for joy even in sorrow and hurt (2 Cor. 6:10).
Believers should also rejoice in persecution and slander for Christ’s sake because of the future reward. Christ said, “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matt. 5:11-12).
As great as believers’ joy is in this present world, the fullness of our joy awaits a future day. Jude 24 says that God will someday make believers “stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy.” What a day that will be! God will surely deliver everything He has promised to those who love Him. Read Revelation 21 and 22 and rejoice in all that God has in store for His redeemed.
These are just a few reasons believers can rejoice. Many more could be listed. To experience this joy, a person must first be saved and then constantly be looking to the promises of the Word of God. By the power of the Spirit, we must walk by faith in the Word of God not by sight in our present circumstances. Beloved, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice” (Phil. 4:4)!