A pint of Haagen-Dazs! Chocolate-chocolate chip!
By the last spoonful I’ll be
joy unspeakable and full of creamy glory!
And full of pounds. That too.
Alas, that’s not the way to the fullness of joy the Bible promises. Joy is the second of nine fruits of the spirit (Gal. 5:22-23).
♥ Of the spirit means it has nothing to do with physical circumstances, material matters, luck in lotteries, or hoggin’ anything. It’s different from happiness (hap means “chance”), and we can rejoice even in godly sorrow (2 Cor. 7:9).
♥ Joy’s second position speaks loudly of its importance. Lists in the Bible teach through their inspired order. “God is love” (1 John 4:8), but God the Father and Jesus Christ are also pure joy. Like all nine fruits, joy is part of their essence and nature.
John, often called the apostle of love, seems to write about joy just about as much and is the one who wrote that “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” (1 John 1:3-4). I feel privileged to be part of that “we” in writing to you about how you can choose to be part of “building the family of God.”
♥ The fullness of joy promised for us—NOW—comes from being locked into fulfilling God’s purpose. How could we not be joyful when we have been granted a relationship with God the Father and Jesus Christ and have the hope of living forever in their Family and Kingdom!
David wrote that “In Your presence is fullness of joy” (Psa. 16:11). Are we fellowshipping with the Father and Son today through prayer, Bible study, fasting and mediation—the main tools in our Christian toolbox?
Better yet, are They living in us through the power of their Holy Spirit? Are we putting on the new man or woman of joy (Eph. 4:24)? The proof is in the putting.
♥ Fullness of joy is upward, outward and forward—through loving God and loving others and, as Pumbaa put it so lovably in Lion King, “You gotta put your past behind you.” Paul put it so biblically in Phlp. 3:13-14.
We will have this joy all the time—unconditional joy—even when going through “a time to weep” and “a time to mourn” (Eccles. 3:4). Even “a time to gain” (spooning into the pint of Haagen-Dazs) and “a time to lose” (after lamenting the last creamy bite).
The angels announced to shepherds “good tidings of great joy” that Jesus Christ would bring (Luke 2:10). Later our Savior said, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).
So can you blame Christians for hoping to “prosper in all things and be in health” (1 John 3:2)? John prayed that for Gaius like we would wish it upon our Christian brothers and sisters.
But Heb. 12:2 is a key scripture about
A required component of full joy that we must be prepared for
“Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and has set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (where Psa. 16:11 says is the scene of pleasures forevermore).
♥ The whip cream and cherry on top, promised by Jesus for fullness of joy, is suffering. He warned us that we must take up our cross and follow Him. “If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him” (2 Tim. 2:12, King James Version).
Paul said we must “rejoice in hope” and “glory in tribulations” (Rom. 5:3). Peter added that we must not “think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings” (1 Pet. 4:12-13). James demands what humanly seems impossible: “count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience” (James 1:2-3).
This fruit of the spirit called joy is humanly not possible. We can’t work it up. “Have a drink and loosen up.” Wrong spirit!
We must ask for the Holy Spirit. Jesus promised that if we ask in His name, “you will receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:24).
Jesus said to ask for this joy along with the other eight fruits of the Holy Spirit. He assured us that “If you, then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (Luke 11:13).
So why didn’t I ask for too long a time? I knew that if we ask for joy, it’s not going to be just funneled into us; typically we’ll face a trial that forces us to develop the joy we don’t naturally have. So I held back from asking for the fruits of the Holy Spirit. I figure I had enough trials without asking for it!
But why should I miss out? God promises to not give us more than we can handle (1 Cor. 10:13), and He never has in my life.
So who else would like fullness of joy?
And oh, by the way, if you have a pint you won’t be eating, I know someone you could make deliriously happy.