The dictionary defines joy as "the emotion evoked by well-being, success, good fortune or the prospect of possessing what one desires." This definition is unhelpful for understanding Christian joy, especially the kind of joy that we are to possess in the midst of trials (see James 1:2). Therefore, let us examine the concept of joy more closely.
Joy in the New Testament translates the Greek word chara, which roughly means, “joy” or “gladness.” Chara is related to another Greek word, charis, which we usually translate “grace” or “gift.” We derive the words “charisma” and “charismatic” from charis.
When we look at joy in Scripture, we learn several things:
- The joy of the Lord is strength (Nehemiah 8:10).
- In God’s presence is fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11).
- God himself is the center and source of joy (Psalm 43:4).
- Joy is a chief characteristic of worship (Psalm 100).
With these things in mind, joy, then, is "a gift from God, an aspect of his grace, by which he manifests his presence to us, strengthens us, and enables us to serve him with gladness regardless of the circumstances that we face." Hence, we can experience the joy of the Lord even when we are sad or the circumstances of life are weighing us down. True Christian joy comes through fellowshipping with God, drawing close to him through worship and prayer and casting our cares upon him (1 Peter 5:7). It is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) and as such, it belongs to all who believe in Christ. May the joy of the Lord be yours today! Enjoy these brief words of encouragement.