Fruit of the Spirit: Joy

Nature of Joy

BIBLICAL JOY (χαρά/chara) isn’t some innate inner resource or an attitude that depends upon amenable circumstances. Nonetheless, it’s interesting that Calvin says, “Joy does not here, I think, denote that ‘joy in the Holy Ghost’ (Rom 14:17) of which he speaks elsewhere, but that cheerful behaviour towards our fellow-men which is the opposite of moroseness.”1John Calvin and William Pringle, Commentaries on the Epistles of Paul to the Galatians and Ephesians (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2010), 167–68.

Biblical joy isn’t an attitude that depends upon amenable circumstances
But I think it unlikely that one or more of the things in this list could be cut out from being so directly derived from the Spirit as that.

What I mean is that “joy in the Holy Ghost” should also have its effects in our daily lifestyle. Paul tells the Roman church, “now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God” (Rom 5:11). Later he reminds them that the kingdom of God is about “living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom 14:17). He teaches the same thing to the Philippians church, but as an imperative “rejoice in the Lord,” which he later expands, “Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!” (Phil 3:1; 4:4).

'Joy in the Holy Ghost' should have its effects in our daily lifestyle


Joy vis-a-vis the Charismata

“Songs of Joy,” by James Tissot (1836–1902)

We are the community gathered by the resurrected Lord, and that news alone ought to evoke joy. Just as Israel of old sang songs of joy after God had delivered them from slavery and then from the pursuit by Egypt, we are a delivered people. We are a people set for ultimate triumph over sin and death.

A prayer for a joyful spirit…

Lord, help me live in joy, when circumstances are tough and when they’re happy times. Help me to lead singing in bonds and hum along with others who rejoice.

In Jesus’s name, amen.


  1. How should joy manifest itself in our lifestyle, at home, at work, and at church?
  2. What are some ideas about “joy” that you think mistaken?
  3. What “robs” your joy?

Author: Dale A. Brueggemann

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