The fruit of the spirit is love expressed by joy. Today as we look at imitating Christ we are going to look at the source of joy that Jesus had and try to apply it to ourselves. Joy can be defined in two ways one being the demonstration of happiness and the other as the source of our happiness. The expression of joy is an emotion which is not constant whereas the source of joy will be constant.
The joy that Jesus had was because he lived with the assurance that God was always with him. From an early age Jesus knew that he was God’s only son. The bible says little about the childhood of Jesus but what it does say is very important. John 1: 1 we have the start of the life of Jesus, he was with God and he was God. Luke 1: 39 – 45 tells us that when Mary visited Elizabeth the Holy Spirit entered into John the baptist before he was born. Two women carrying babies, not yet born, filled with the Holy Spirit, one the forerunner for the son of God. When Jesus was in Jerusalem for the feast day, he said that he was about his fathers business. At the age of thirty three, the age when young men started their carriers as priests, John the Baptist said that the spirit descended upon Jesus and that he would baptize with the Holy Spirit (John 1: 33). The joy that Jesus had was not dependent upon what was going on around him, There were many temptations, people insulted him, they left him, yet he know that God was in control. If you look at the life that Jesus lived you will see that he praised God for all that was done through him. We also see that he lived in the presence of God, through prayer as well as the miracles he preformed.
As Jesus was preparing the followers for his departure he gave them three important promises. First he said that he would send the comforter. John 15: 26 states that when the comforter comes, whom I will send from the father, he will testify of me. (paraphrased) Second that he would come again to them. Mathew 28: 20 “ I am with you always” KJV Third he tells them that his joy will be in them. Mathew 15: 10 – 12 says that if we keep his commandments we will live in his love and we will have his joy.
We can also have the joy of Christ in our hearts because Jesus said that he would be in us. Rev. 3: 20 says that he is knocking at the door of our hearts and that if anyone will open that door he will come into our lives and live with us.
On a more personal note, is this still possible today? My in-laws have both past away and their lives showed that this is possible. After forty years in the ministry illness forced them to be mostly home bound. My mother-in-law had dementia and yet she praised God to the very end of her life. After her death my father-in-law was given a new ministry which involved, prison, music, and TV programs, until he had cancer. He said that through it all he just wanted to be a blessing to others and share Christ. The joy of the Lord never left him. It would seem that the joy of the Lord had increase the closer he came to “going home”.
In the past few years there have been difficulties in my life. With the health issues of both my wife and I, we were not able to attend church often. Our health has improved and we are back in church serving God. The joy that God has placed in our hearts has never left us and is growing.
As you imitate Christ may you allow joy to increase in your life by allowing his love to grow stronger in you.