But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 (NKJV)
There are basically three characteristics of the joy God gives us.
Joy Is Supernatural
There is a difference between the joy of the Lord and the joy of the world. The joy of the world is more of a temporary pleasure than a real and abiding joy. That the joy of the Lord is a supernatural joy is probably the most important characteristic of this joy. Joy isn’t something that w work up. Joy isn’t something that’s based on anything in this world. Joy is something that God supernaturally gives to us. (see 1 Thessalonians 1:6, Romans 14:17, Romans 15:13)
Joy Springs From Faith In Christ
Since joy is supernatural it stands to reason that one of the ways we have access to it is through our faith in Christ (see 11 Peter 1:8).
Joy Isn’t Dependant On Circumstances
Probably the clearest demonstration that the joy of the Lord is supernatural is that we see that this joy isn’t dependant on circumstances. The joy of the world is almost totally dependent on circumstances. When we are depending on the world as our source of joy we will always have a nagging feeling that this joy really isn’t all that it should be or that it could be. In the joy of the world there is always a haunting awareness that at any moment something can go wrong and when it does our joy is gone. The joy of the Lord is very different from this (see James 1:2-3, Romans 5:1-3).
So what can we do to develop joy if we don’t have it?
Meditate On Your Salvation.
“Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” Luke 10:20 (NKJV)
I think that one thing that can happen to us is that we become so used to being saved that we forget all that went into our redemption and all that we receive through this redemption. Think about what happened just to make it possible for us to be saved.
God took on flesh and lived on the earth in the person of Jesus Christ. He lived and taught to give us an example and instructions on what it meant to live for Him. He was rejected, beaten, crucified and then died. This was done to pay the penalty for our sins so that we could be saved. It is amazing that God the Creator would do that for us the creation. Think about what happens to us because of what Jesus did on the cross.
Complete freedom from condemnation (Romans 8:1).
We are adopted as the children of God (Romans 8:15).
Free and unhindered access to God (Hebrews 10:21-22).
A glorious hope (1 Thessalonians 5:1-11).
Spend Adequate Time In Prayer And The Word.
These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. John 15:11 (NKJV)
When you mix this with other passages we learn that God’s Word is to be something that cultivates joy in the hearts of believers (see Jeremiah 15:16, Psalm 119:162). Jesus also explained that praying in His name would lead to abundant joy (John 16:23-24). I think the reason these things bring us joy is that as we pray and read our Bible we draw closer to God. The closer we are to God the greater the joy we will have in our lives.
Spend Time With God And With Other Believers.
Take some time and read 1 John 1:1-4 John explains that when we have fellowship with him, we also having fellowship with God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ and this would give them joy. John wasn’t just interested that we would have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. He also wanted to be sure that we were connected to the Body of Christ in a real and tangible way. He said, “Walk with us and as you do we will all walk with Christ.”
To me this just reinforces the fact that we need each other. God doesn’t intend for us to go through life not being a part of the church. His desire and will for each of us is that we join with other believers and all of us together experience His presence. As we walk with God together we have joy.
Spend Time Ministering To Others.
For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? For you are our glory and joy. 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20 (NKJV)
A part of the reason that Paul had joy in his life was that he spend time ministering to and serving others. He knew that his service to Christ had eternal consequences in their lives. To know that God had worked through him to help some be saved and help others mature and become fully devoted followers of Christ gave him joy. He had helped these believers come to know Christ and now he knew he would see them in heaven. This was a source of joy for Paul.
There is great joy in knowing that you have had an eternal impact on someone’s life. There is joy because you have help rescues someone from the flames of judgment. There is joy because you helped someone move beyond the basics of Christianity. There is joy because God has worked through you to accomplish His will in the world. There is always joy in ministering to others. God gives us His joy as He works through us to accomplish His will in the world around us.
The ways that God has shown us to cultivate joy aren’t complicated. They aren’t things we don’t know how to do. They aren’t even things we didn’t know. They are the very basic things that most every Christian knows they should do. But either we don’t do them or we do them with the wrong attitude and miss out on the joy that God wants us to experience. I really think that God intends on this being simple and basic because then when these simple basic things produce a supernatural joy in our lives we are forced to recognize that it was God that did it and not us.