“Whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory”
In ancient Greek, the word “rejoice” meant to plume oneself in the sense of joyful pride (v. 6; 4:13). Joy is the inner animation of soul. Biblical joy is not happiness. Happiness depends on circumstances. If we have good circumstances we are happy, if not we are unhappy. Joy, however, is independent of circumstances. Joy depends on our present relationship with God.
Revelation 19:7, “Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.”
We rejoice when we look to God’s saving work in Christ.
1 John 1:3-4, “That which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us, and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.”
Present joy depends on our present relationship to Jesus Christ.
Present joy depends on our present relationship to Jesus Christ. Yesterday’s faith will not contribute to today’s joy. Yesterday’s meals will not satisfy today’s hunger. Present joy depends on present trust in Christ. It springs from our sense of forgiveness, an appreciation for the cross.
Joy did not depend on whether Caesar stopped persecuting first-century Christians; it depended on their current relationship with Jesus Christ. What is your relationship to Jesus Christ like at this moment? Has your faith grown lukewarm? Are you existing rather than living? Maybe you are going through deep trouble as you read this devotional. Is it unbearable? The key issue is how you resolve the problem. Are you merely bearing up under the pain? Are you experiencing the joy of God?
Someone asked J. D. Rockefeller, “How much money would it take to make a person happy?” He answered, “Just a little bit more.” All of us have known the staleness of excess and intemperate indulgence. Indulgence is fleeting enjoyment based on things, circumstances, and people. These things do not ultimately satisfy.
The Bible has a different system for the possession of joy. We find joy in fellowship with a person. Joy is not an end in itself, but a result. Joy comes from the fact that we are in a right relationship with God through faith in Christ daily.
“Very well,” you say, “I know that my joy comes from God. That is not my trouble. What happens when I lose my joy?” Joy does not rest on us but God. If God planned it, initiated it, he will see it to fruition in our souls. Many failures in the Christian life originate right here. People say, “I’m through, I’ve failed, I cannot live the Christian life.” Nothing could be truer. We cannot live the Christian life. We cannot produce or maintain the Christian life.
God must empower us or we will indeed fail. Joy is strictly contemporaneous with faith. If we tear away an electric cord from its source of energy, the light goes out. The same is true in the Christian life. If we separate ourselves from the person of Christ we lose the source of our joy. He is our source of power. If we do not plug into him, we cut off fellowship with him; we cut off our source of joy.
The joyous Christian is not the one with the least trouble necessarily. Often he is the one with the greatest trouble. He has found the truth that Christ is with him in his difficulty. God nowhere promises us an easy path of roses. Anyone can glory in prosperity. To say with Job, “though he slays me, yet will I trust him” is true Christian living.
Did you ever notice that Jesus went to the garden of Gethsemane singing? Matthew 26:30, “And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.” He was on his way to the cross singing!! He knew that the cross led to the empty tomb and victory over sin. He knew his Father was with him. These principles transcended circumstances.
Why wait till we get to heaven to receive true joy? We can find joy as we travel along. It is foolish to wait for the heights before we enjoy the scenery. Yesterday’s meals will not satisfy today’s hunger. Neither will yesterday’s faith satisfy today’s joy. Present joy depends on present faith.