When I was younger, I used to struggle with being joyful, or staying that way. Sometimes, I would get afraid that my joy would distract me from doing the right thing, or that I would offend someone.
Then I learned that "joy" is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5: 22), not something that I create on my own. Furthermore, as a fruit of the Spirit, joy was not something that I had to worry about:
"This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of
"For the flesh
lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are
contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
"But if ye be led
of the Spirit, ye are not under the law." (Galatians 5: 16-18)
Under the calm and loving power of the Holy Spirit, we need never again worry about keeping the law, for the Spirit of God leads us by His peace into all that He wants us to do (Colossians 3: 15)
Yet how to maintain joy still seemed elusive to me. Then I read:
"O satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days." (Psalm 90: 14)
When we meditate on the fact that our sins are forever forgiven, that there is nothing more that we must do to get right with God to receive His favor, we rejoice!
His Word also grants us His joy:
"If ye keep my
commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's
commandments, and abide in his love.
"These things have I
spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might
be full." (John 15: 10-11)
Through the Holy Spirit, we have Christ, the Living Word. living in us and directing us. We are not called to love in order for God to dwell in u, but because He dwells in us, we can love others:
"Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of
his Spirit." (1 John 4: 13)
As we meditate on the Word of God, His power and wisdom break forth in us, increasing the presence of His joy in our lives. Our knowledge of our place in Christ above all magnifies our joy:
"That which we have seen
and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and
truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.
"And these things write
we unto you, that your joy may be full. " (1 John 1: 3-4)
When we know who we are in Him, He who cares of us, who has given us Himself, His life, and His favor, how can we not rejoice!