I was asked to write up a devotion for tonight‘s small group on the question – what does everyday joy look like? Each week we will touch on another aspect of the Fruits and each on of our group is taking on one of them. I was lucky enough to be chosen first so I can get it out of the way! This is NOT one of my strengths!!! Anyway, here goes (forgive the changes in font – it was copied from my original doc):
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Gal 5:22-23
Speaking from a mom’s perspective on what Joy can look like – for me it’s cuddling a sleepy baby – feeling his soft breath on my skin, hearing my son’s laughter, indulging in tickle fights until we’re both out of breath, hearing my son’s prayers, seeing my son and husband sound asleep in the recliner with their faces turned towards each other.
From a wife’s perspective, JOY is waking up in the morning with my husbands arm pulling me in to snuggle before the day starts, his warm embrace after a difficult day, holding hands in the quiet of life, opening a door, hearing him speak about his faith in the power of God, the special looks that only mean something to me.
From a woman’s perspective I find JOY in the feel of fabric or yarn sliding through my fingers, the smell of dinner being prepared for friends and family, children’s laughter, fellowship with precious friends around the firepit and in the kitchen, when I can serve others without their knowing.
For me, JOY is the smell of fresh bread baking, bacon frying on the griddle, the sweet smell of lilacs in the spring, the tight, comforting hug of a good friend, the warm, loving embrace of my strong and faithful husband, my son’s snuggly body and the way he curves into me, his laughter, the sound of great music, gathering with my friends – in the kitchen, around the fire pit, at the movies, riding a motorcycle with the wind in my face, finding a passage in the Bible that speaks to ME and realizing God is truly with me.
The Bible has many definitions and versions of the word JOY. It is a noun and a verb – both tangible and intangible. The Random House definition is this:
- The emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation.
- A source or cause of keen pleasure or delight; something or someone greatly valued or appreciated
- The expression or display of glad feelings; festive gaiety
- A state of happiness or felicity.
- Ant. 1. misery, unhappiness, sorrow, grief
Stong’s says this:
chara: joy, delight
Original Word: χαρά, ᾶς, ἡ
Part of Speech: Noun, Feminine
Phonetic Spelling: (khar-ah’)
Short Definition: joy, gladness
Definition: joy, gladness, a source of joy.
HELPS word studies says this:
Cognate: 5479 xará (another feminine noun from the root xar-, “extend favor, lean towards, be favorably disposed”) – properly, the awareness (of God’s) grace, favor; joy (“grace recognized”).
FYI – (cognates are words that have a common etymological origin)
And Stong’s Exhaustive Concordance:
From chairo; cheerfulness, i.e. Calm delight — gladness, X greatly, (X be exceeding) joy(-ful, -fully, -fulness, -ous).
see GREEK chairo
There are many more definitions from various Hebrew and Greek sources – surprising, isn’t it? That one word, JOY, has such varied meanings? Delight, gladness, extend favor, lean towards, be favorably disposed, the awareness of God’s GRACE, FAVOR, JOY, grace recognized, cheerfulness, calm delight.
I love the phrase “grace recognized.” Because isn’t this what we are preparing to do on this trip? Offer grace. Perhaps this is another way of saying “to offer joy”? What better way to show the joy of being a follower of Christ than serving others? This also is a form of sacrifice because without the sacrifice of love one cannot have joy. Karen said last week that in her research she discovered in the Greek Lexicon that “Joy is peace realized.” When I listed all those things that I equate with JOY the one thing that seems synonymous is peace and contentment. I believe when we find our JOY then peace and contentment settle in. For a lot of us JOY can seem to be just out of reach. We believe the “grass is greener” philosophy. I believe that robs us of Godly JOY. God wants us to find peace and contentment in Him and that comes from finding JOY in the blessings He gives us – not what the world can offer us. I know I need to be reminded of that on a regular basis as I have lived most of the last eight years in the opposite of JOY – mired in unhappiness, sorrow and grief. Being a follower of Christ does not mean being perfect. It means being willing to be vulnerable, to open ourselves up to others, to strive for Christ-like perfection knowing we will fail and fall short but also knowing that it’s ok. He loves us anyway!
(Joy means excitement and happy to the wild man. He says he jumps for joy a lot!)