Joy in God: Our Part & God’s Part

Biblical Data:
  • We are commanded to rejoice in the Lord – so joy must be, in part, a matter of the will (Matt. 5:12; Phil. 3:1; 4:4; 1 Thess. 5:16).
  • We are told that joy is a fruit of the Spirit – so joy must be, in part, something we cannot produce on our own, but which is dependent upon the Spirit (Gal. 5:22; cf. Rom. 14:17; 1 Thess. 1:6).
  • Paul prays that God would grant the Romans all joy and peace in believing (Rom. 15:13; 1 Pet. 1:8). So, joy is a gift of God that comes to us in the context of our believing.
  • We are commanded to “count” things joy (Jas. 1:2) – so joy must be, in part, a matter of the mind.
  • Paul testifies that he works together with the Corinthians for their joy (2 Cor. 1:24). Thus, joy is something we must labor for
    Laboring for joy may take a variety of forms. Two things stand out to me from Scripture. The first is the labor of keeping the mind focused in faith on God’s sufficiency and the effort of the will to choose to give thanks and praise in anticipation of the revelation of God’s sufficiency. The second is pursuing those things that enable others to be satisfied in God.

Man’s part in having Joy in God: 
  •  Choose to focus the mind on the sufficiency of God and His promises (Psa. 90:14; Jas. 1:2‑4), thereby fostering and building faith and hope which are grounds of joy (Rom. 15:13; 12:12). 
  • Choose to regard and, thus, to be satisfied that all things are an expression, in some way, of God’s sovereignty, faithfulness, goodness, and wisdom (Job; 1 Cor. 10:13; Psa. 145:9; Rom. 11:33-35).
  • Ask God to strengthen your faith and to give you joy by His Spirit (Rom. 15:13; Gal. 5:22; Acts 13:52).
  • Engage in expressing thanksgiving in and for all things (Eph. 5:20; 1 Thess. 5:18). The degree to which we experience the emotional dimension of joy will fluctuate in direct proportion to the object of our mind’s focus (God vs. other things), the strength of our mental focus (faith), our expression of it to others, and other physical factors such as rest, health, and exercise.
God’s part in our Joy in Him:

God by His Spirit (Gal. 5:5; Acts 13:52; Rom. 14:17) ...
  • illumines us to see His sufficiency (Psa. 90:14).
  • enables us to persist in believing His word regarding His character and will (John 15:11).
  • grants us joy and peace as we believe (Rom. 15:13).

[1] Piper’s by-line for reflects this dimension of pursuing joy: “Spreading a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ.”


Jason Baker said…
In your experience, do u think joy is something an average person can detect in joyful Christians or is joy something mature Christians detect in other Christians? Thanks for your sharing.
Philip Brown said…
Since joy has a range of emotional experiences and physical expressions, it can be easily detected when it is in the upper portion of its range. It is less visible and thus less detectable to the external observer when it is in the loss segment of its range. My joy "dipstick" is the question, "Am I satisfied in God?"
Jason Baker said…
Thank you!
Thanks for posting! These posts are helping me better understand the kind of "joy" a Christian should have. Here's a resource I stumbled upon that I still have to evaluate and study yet but that you may find interesting:

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