Joy is the second attribute described as being part of the fruit of the Spirit. Joy is synonymous with happiness, gladness and delight. Secular thinking promotes the concept that joy comes as a result of pursuing things that produce an inner feeling of happiness. However, the Christian should be careful to ensure that this attitude does not encourage engagement in sinful activity which can be associated with happiness, at least temporarily. Selfishly chasing after pleasure is not the way to experience real joy.

Proverbs chapter 21 verse 15 states that joy occurs when the believer acts in a just or righteous manner. This is what is in mind in Galatians chapter 5 verse 22; joy is the cheerful, glad and hopeful outlook of an individual who has complete faith in God and seeks to live life as directed by the word of God through the Holy Spirit. Joy in the Holy Spirit is an essential mark of the kingdom of God, Rom. 14. 17. It should be seen in us, given that we are the recipients of God’s favour, and we have the certain hope that our salvation will be completed, and we shall share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Despite the fact that we have not seen our Lord, we love Him and patiently wait for His return, believing in Him, this belief itself being associated with joy that is ‘unspeakable’, 1 Pet. 1. 8. This should be a permanent feature in the lives of God’s people. It is Christ Himself who supplies the believer with His joy, John 15. 11, and His prayer in the Upper Room prior to His arrest in Gethsemane was that His disciples should experience the fullness of joy in their lives, 17. 13. 

Reasons to rejoice

Christians have plenty of things to be glad about. We are the objects of divine protection, Ps.  5. 11, which should fill us with great comfort and reassurance. There is joy associated with salvation, which David considers in Psalm 21 verse 1, ‘The king shall joy in thy strength, O Lord; and in thy salvation how greatly shall he rejoice!’ The Lord Jesus directed the attention of the disciples after a day in the service of God to the fact that they should rejoice in the sovereign predestination and election of God for them as individuals, rather than the miraculous power they had through Him, Luke 10. 20. It is widely known that the scripture teaches of there being joy in heaven when a sinner repents, 15. 7, but it should also be the case that Christians are glad when they hear news of people trusting in the Lord Jesus, Acts 15. 3. The circumstances of life have an impact on our mood, and therefore we are frequently not as happy as we would wish. Nevertheless, Paul instructs us, ‘Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice’, Phil. 4. 4. The Lord is the source of joy; our joy in Him should be constant and increasing, as we have fellowship with God throughout the course of our lives.

Joy in suffering

One of the great paradoxes of the scriptures is the recurrent teaching that suffering is associated with joy.1 It is not the case that joy results from pain in some perverse manner, but rather that in persecution the Christian is conformed to Christ, who is our Head, and draws us nearer to Him. Suffering is used by God in the training of His children to develop our character and increase our faith. Charles Spurgeon said, ‘Those who dive in the sea of affliction bring up rare pearls’.2 Believers rejoice through tribulations since they cause us to focus our minds on Christ and not the distractions of this world. We subdue our own wills to God’s as His purpose is worked out, and as we anticipate more of our hope of glory in Christ Jesus. When we consider the sufferings of Christ, we learn that it was for joy that He went to Calvary, ‘Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross’, Heb. 12. 2.

Let us be characterized by joy through the activity of the Spirit of God within us, in spite of the frequent trials and difficulties which are ours to face.



Matt. 5. 11, 12; Acts 5. 41; Col. 1. 24; 1 Pet. 4. 13.


C. H. Spurgeon, The Complete Works of Charles Spurgeon, Volume 78, Delmarva Publications, 2015, pg. 92.