Did you know that a Christian without joy is a contradiction in terms? If you are right with God, you ought to have joy in your life! But there are many Christians who live as if they have lost their joy.
Why Is Joy Important?
One of the most important reasons joy is important is to win the lost to Jesus. You can't go around with a Bible under one arm and a tombstone under the other saying, "Don't you want to be like I am?" Our best advertisement is the joy of the Lord.
You also need joy in order to have the strength to live the Christian life. God said to Nehemiah when he was building the walls around Jerusalem and the people were getting tired, "The joy of the Lord is your strength" (Nehemiah 8:10). You can't live the Christian life without joy.
Joy is also essential in order to bear life's burdens. We all have heartaches and difficulties, but joy is the lubricant of life. The joy of the Lord will remove the burdens from your heart.
What Is Joy?
We're not just to have joy like His; we are to have His joy. What was this joy Jesus had and wanted us to have?
First, He had an abounding joy. He said, "...that your joy might be full." His joy was not half-hearted joy, but it was joy that was abounding and supernatural.
Not only an abounding joy, but Jesus also had an abundant joy. Abounding speaks of the quality of the joy, and abundant speaks of the amount of joy. Even through His tears and even through His agony, His was an abundant joy.
And He had an abiding joy. He said, "...that My joy might remain in you..." It was not joy that came and went. Jesus taught us this lesson about joy as He faced dark Calvary. We too are to have joy regardless of the circumstances. We're to rejoice in the Lord always.
How to Have Joy
Jesus Himself tells us how to have this kind of joy. In verse eleven, He said, "These things have I spoken unto you...," so let's see what He has just spoken. There, we will find the recipe for joy.
Jesus spoke of Himself as a Vine and we are His branches. He tells us that the branch is to abide in the vine, and then there will be joy. Just what does it mean to abide?
• To surrender — Look in John 15:4: "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in Me." A branch makes a full surrender to the vine and exists only for the vine. We must totally, completely abide in the Vine in order to have joy.
• To depend — The joy of Jesus is given when we depend upon the Lord. In John 15:5 Jesus says, "...He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing." What can a branch do without a vine? Nothing! When you think you are something, then God is not everything. And God cannot be everything until you become nothing.
• To rest — In verse nine Jesus says, "As the Father hath loved Me, so have I loved you: continue ye in My love." That means to rest in His love. The Bible tells us in Galatians 5:22 that joy is part of the fruit of the Spirit. We cannot create joy; we must simply rest in the Vine.
• To obey — Jesus says in verse ten: "If ye keep My commandments, ye shall abide in My love..." Jesus kept the commandments of His Father. We also must obey Him. There's no way to have joy unless we obey.
• To rejoice — We've come full circle. We're back to verse eleven where we started. Jesus says, "These things have I spoken unto you, that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full."
Without genuine joy, your life is meaningless. And joy is found only in Jesus — not joy like His, but the supernatural joy of Jesus Christ. Do you have the fullness of joy? Abide in Him.
When we come to Him in repentance and faith, we are empowered-and expected-to live the Christian life not by trying, but by trusting. Faith is not only how we receive salvation, it is how we walk, day by day, in grace. Only by faith can we extend forgiveness to others, share God's truth, and leave a godly legacy. As the tapestry of your life unfolds, may you begin to see the wonders of living each day, moment by moment, a life of faith and forgiveness.