Fruits of the Spirit: Choosing Joy

Week #2 of the Fruit of the Spirit discussions. Today is finding joy in the “little things.”


“I love it,” Vanellope Von Schweetz exclaims in Disney’s Wreck it Ralph as she looks at her finished race car.

Ralph tried to help her build a new car in the mini game, but true to his nature he wrecked the entire game, and her car came out a complete mess. He was upset. In his eyes it wasn’t a good product and was apologizing when Vanellope gasped with excitement.

“I love it! I love it! I love it! I love it! I love it! I love it! Look at it! It’s got a real engine! And look at these wheels! I love it! I finally have a real car!”

Vanellope was ecstatic to have a real race car, one that would help her participate as an actual contender for the prize she was racing for: a chance to have her name on the list of racers from which a player could choose.

The difference between Vanellope and Ralph is that Ralph focused on the negatives, but Vanellope found joy in the littlest of things.

It’s a given that when you purchase a car, whether old or new, it will come with an engine. But Vanellope cheered over the fact that it had one. She loved the wheels so much she kissed one. Ralph was surprised by her excitement, but I’m sure he also felt relieved.

FINDING JOY IN THE LITTLE THINGS

This Valentine’s Day, my husband surprised me with a gift that maybe not everyone would be thrilled about, but I most definitely was. My husband bought me flowers and…a belt sander. Yes he did.

To say it’s a practical gift isn’t too far-fetched, though it’s not as “practical” as a cooking or cleaning appliance would be (and, hey, if that’s what I wanted I’d be all for it).

But it was this little gesture that I found so much joy in. My husband knew how much I would appreciate the gift even if someone else would find it odd. He took the time to purchase the flowers and the belt sander (which, might I add…were both red), and he was able to hide them from me until placing them carefully on the dining room table so that, when I happened to turn around from my spot in the living room, they would have “magically appeared.” He took so much care in this.

I was pleasantly surprised. I couldn’t help but smile and laugh. I even posted a picture of it to Facebook letting all of my friends know how awesome my husband was.

Finding joy in the “little things” can prove to be challenging, but being joyful is an amazing, uplifting feeling. It’s an experience to be treasured and sought after, even in the most trying times, even when we don’t feel like there is any good around.

And sometimes it’s those “little things” that we need to grab hold of to keep us sane, to keep us moving forward, to keep us on the right path.

And sometimes…those “little things” aren’t as little as we may think.

JOY IN SALVATION

Have you ever thought about the joy in the Salvation that Jesus Christ has given to us? Whenever I read Psalm 51:10-12, I can’t help but sing:

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me…
Restore unto me, the joy of thy salvation, and renew a right spirit within me.”

The joy of thy salvation. When we chose to follow Christ we were saved. Through him, we were able to cast off sin, and we were born anew. There is so much joy in the thought of this. So much joy that we should be leaping and dancing around, praising the name of Jesus Christ. And you know what? How many of us, when we were new believers, were ready to do just that?

We need to remember our joy in his salvation, in our salvation.

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

1 Peter 1:8-9

JOY FOR OTHERS

We can also find joy when we see our own children, the children of others, or even those whom we teach walking in the Way. Have you ever watched another person choose Christ? I love altar calls and baptisms in my church. Admittedly I get choked up when another person has chosen to follow Christ, even if they are a complete stranger. They have decided to throw off the old and put on the new. For me, it doesn’t matter who the person is. I can’t help it. Joy wells up in me so deeply just watching and listening.

I have also felt great joy when my two older boys came to me, one at a time, and told me that they asked Jesus into their hearts. They were younger at the time, but they knew what it meant, and they were excited by this. This coming Sunday my 11-year-old son will be making his commitment public as he has signed up to be baptized. I only hope I can hold it together!

The apostle John commented on this in two of his letters, one to the “elect lady and her children,” (2 John), and to a Christian named Gaius (3 John).

It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us.


2 John :4

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

3 John :4

JOY IN THE LAW OF THE LORD

Knowing the goodness of God gives us great joy. He has chosen us, he has drawn us, and we find joy in serving him and in following his laws. Following God’s way isn’t always easy, but when we choose to follow, we don’t feel a burden weighing on our shoulders. When we do what we know is right, we feel light and at peace.

In Psalm 119, the psalmist explains how God’s Word is a light to his path, and has made an oath to follow his laws (verses 105-106). In verse 108, he asks God to teach him the laws, and in 109, he says that he will not forget them. The psalmist rejoices in the laws of the Lord. He knows that God’s Word brings understanding of him who created the world, and of how he needs to walk.

Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart.

Psalm 119:111

In the book of John, Jesus tells us that if we obey his commands, we will remain in his love, just as he remains in the Father’s love because he obeys God’s commands (John 15:10). He then continues on to explain why he said this:

“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”

John 15:11

Jesus wants us to have joy, and not only joy, his joy. And by this our joy will be complete. According to Blue Letter Bible, the word “complete,” or “full,” in this verse is the Greek word, pleroo, which means “perfect.” Therefore, when we live by his law, we will know complete and total joy, and this joy will be made perfect.

JOY IN GRIEF AND TIME OF TROUBLE

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of any kind,because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.

James 1:2-3

How easy is it to follow this recommendation that James put forth to his brethren, to us? I personally have a hard time finding joy in my trials and tribulations. At least, joy is not the first thing I go to. I’m sure I’m not alone in this thought.

Years ago, in a home group through my church, we listened to a story about a pastor’s wife. From what I can remember of the story, the church she and her husband belonged to caught on fire. Instead of mourning the loss of their church, the wife clapped her hands and jumped up and down. Why? Because she was excited to see how they could rebuild it.

I have not forgotten that story to this day. Oh how I would love to be that woman; so full of joy while watching her church burn to the ground. She was not in love with fire; it didn’t give her pleasure to watch something burn. What gave her pleasure was that she knew God was going to take care of this, and what was going to come from it would be so much better than what they already had.

I would call that pure joy.

God makes promises to us, and he never recants. He promises us joy, even among our pain and sorrow, among our grief. David praised God for turning his “mourning into dancing.”(Psalm 30:11). In that same psalm he says that “weeping may remain for a night, but joy comes in the morning (verse 5b).

One day we will rejoice forever. No longer will sorrow come to us:

And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness. The unclean will not journey on it; it will be for those who walk in that Way; wicked fools will not go about on it. No lion will be there, nor will any ferocious beast get up on it; they will not be found there. But only the redeemed will walk there, and the ransomed of the Lord will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.

Isaiah 35:8-10

JOY AND LOVE

As would make sense with the fruits of the Spirit, they all tend to go hand-in-hand. How can we have joy without love? Love is the greatest command. When we choose love we have a slightly easier time choosing all the other fruits. Joy is a choice that we need to make. Making the choice first to love aids us in this decision.

Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.

Philemon :7

Choose joy. Regardless of the season you’re in at the time, look for and grab hold tightly to joy, even if it is just a small, “insignificant” amount. That “little thing” may be what you need to get you to the perfect joy Christ wants for you.

Where do you find your joy?


Lord, I praise you for the joy that you have brought into my life. Though I may mourn, though I may have trouble, I know that you have a perfect joy for me. Thank you for bringing to light the fact that I can find joy in the little things, and when I am faithful in that, I will find greater joy. Thank you, Lord, for your wisdom and understanding that you place before me. In your holy name, I pray, Amen.


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2 thoughts on “Fruits of the Spirit: Choosing Joy

  1. I enjoyed reading this so much. It’s so true and we should all think about and follow these things. Thank you

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