Real Joy

  • Pete Johnson
Woman holding the word Joy

A few blogs ago I wrote about Joy. The final statement in that blog was: 

“Real joy can’t be found in material things no more than real joy can be taken away by the loss of material things.”
A very true statement, but how does a statement of truth become workable in my life? 

How does knowing something become an actual practice? Any believer would agree with the statement above about joy. So, if I know that joy is not anchored in material things, the gain of them or the loss of them, why do so many Christians lack real joy in their life?

Heaven forbid that I should let someone know that I am struggling to find joy in my present situation. What would people think about me if they knew I didn’t have that joy that we preach about, sing about, that we even fake that we possess? I think sometimes there are times that we work harder to portray a fake joy to others than we do to possess the real thing! 

We know that even the most mature of God’s people experience periods of joylessness. For instance, Job wished he had never been born: 
“Why did I not die at birth, come out from the womb and expire?” Job 3:11 

David desired to go to a place where he would not have to deal with reality. 

And I say, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest; yes, I would wander far away; I would lodge in the wilderness; Selah I would hurry to find a shelter
from the raging wind and tempest.” Psalm 55:6-8 

If these men of God struggled, how can we experience consistent joy in our Christian lives? 

I believe that there are 3 things required for real JOY: 

1. I first must have a real relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Outside of Christ, there is no relationship with God and no real joy.

 John 14:6: Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” 

Acts 4:12: And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” 

1 Peter 1:8 Though you have not seen him, you love him.  Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory 

2. Joy requires obedience to God’s Word:

The Bible has a lot to say about obedience. Obedience is an indispensable part of the Christian life that brings joy.

1 Peter 1:14:  As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance 

Jesus, our example, himself was obedient unto death, even death on a cross Philippians 2: 8. 

The writer of Hebrews put it this way, regarding the connection between obedience and joy:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2 

As Christians, if we are not obeying Christ’s commands, we can rightly be asked, “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” Luke 6:46. Here we see the connection between a real relationship and obedience.

As believers, if we are not obedient to God’s Word, we are in a constant struggle to defend our disobedience, which in turn robs us of joy. A real relationship with God through Christ and obedience to God’s Word leads to Godly accomplishments: This means that God is using us, no matter our present situation, in his plan. 

I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13 

But now finish doing it also, so that just as there was the readiness to desire it, so there may be also the completion of it by your ability. 2 Corinthians 8:11

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. Hebrews 13:20-21

3. A real relationship with God through Christ and Obedience to God’s Word leads to Godly accomplishments, which then leads to contentment, which is joy.

 “Godliness with contentment is great gain” 1 Timothy 6:6 

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:11-13

So then, to experience joy, real joy that provides contentment:

  • Make sure that your relationship with God is through Jesus Christ.
  • Be obedient to God’s Word, no matter the cost.
  • Then you will see accomplishment: Christ working through you.

That’s when true joy is experienced. That is the contentment that the Apostle Paul wrote about while he was in prison.

Paul had a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. He was obedient to God’s Word, even though it put him in prison, it cost him his reputation, and then his life, he saw Christ working through which in turn brought him contentment- joy.

I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.  

Philippians 1:12-28