How can we have complete or full joy in our lives?


In John 17:13, we read: “But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they [His disciples] may have MY JOY fulfilled in them.”

Joy is one ingredient of the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22; compare 1 Thessalonians 1:6). When Christ, through the Holy Spirit, lives in us, then HIS joy is in us and will remain in us, and our joy will become more and more full or fulfilled (John 15:11). As we need to ask God the Father for the daily renewal of the Holy Spirit, so we need to ask for the fullness of God’s and Christ’s joy in our lives (compare John 16:24). It is God who can fill us with all joy (Romans 15:13)–even and especially in times of trials and difficulties. It is possible for us, then, to rejoice always (1 Thessalonians 5:16; compare 2 Corinthians 6:10).

We must be careful, however, not to confuse godly and right joy with worldly and wrong “joy.” Solomon rejoiced in his labor, but it was the wrong kind of labor (Ecclesiastes 2:10-11). The ancient Israelites rejoiced in the works of their hands–but it was the work of building the golden calf (Acts 7:41). It would be the wrong kind of joy to trust in great physical wealth (Job 31:24-25, 28), or to rejoice when our enemies are destroyed or fall (Job 31:29; Proverbs 24:17-18). It would also be wrong to rejoice about our sinful ways (compare James 4:8-9).

When Christ works with us and when He lives in us through the Holy Spirit, then our joy will be godly and right. We rejoice because we know the truth about the kingdom of God (Matthew 13:44). We rejoice in the truth of God (1 Corinthians 13:6). We rejoice over God’s statutes (Psalm 19:8). We rejoice over the way of God’s testimonies (Psalm 119:14). And we rejoice over God’s Word in general, appreciating and embracing it as great treasure (Psalm 119:162). Jeremiah said that God’s Word was the joy of his heart (Jeremiah 15:16).

With Christ’s joy in us, we rejoice over the fact that we belong to God–that God is our Father and that we are His children. We rejoice that our names are already written in God’s Book of Life (Luke 10:20), and that we have fellowship with God the Father and His Son and our brethren (1 John 1:1-4). We also rejoice over the fact that we are to inherit God’s glory (Romans 5:1-2).

In addition, we rejoice because we understand that at the time of our resurrection and change, we will enter into God’s joy–we will experience the very same joy which God has. His kingdom is defined and described as “joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17); and we will enter into the joy of our Lord (Matthew 25:21). There will be exceeding joy–or fullness of joy–when we stand in God’s presence (Jude 24-25; Psalm 16:11). Even though these passages talk about experiencing God’s joy in the future, the knowledge and anticipation of that experience can give us already today exceeding or “inexpressible” joy (1 Peter 1:8).

Christ’s joy in us must be put to use. We do something with it. We serve God joyfully today, especially, but not exclusively, on the weekly Sabbath and the annual Holy Days (Deuteronomy 16:13-15; Ezra 6:22; Nehemiah 12:43; Isaiah 56:7; but compare also Deuteronomy 28:47). We pray to God with joyful lips (Psalm 63:5). In addition, we rejoice when we put our trust in God and when we love Him (Psalm 5:11), and when we are righteous (Psalm 33:1). Put differently, God and the things of God are to be our exceeding joy (Psalm 43:4).

With this kind of joy dwelling in us, we should even be joyful in times of trials, when we focus on our eternal future and not on our present temporary problems. We should leap for joy when men persecute us because we are righteous and serve God (Luke 6:22-23; Acts 5:40-41). We should rejoice in our trials, knowing that we partake of Christ’s suffering, so that we can partake of His exceeding joy, when His glory is revealed (1 Peter 4:12-13). We should rejoice in our trials, knowing that they help us to become more perfect (James 1:2-4). We should even endure joyfully the plundering of our goods, knowing that a better and enduring possession is awaiting us (Hebrews 10:32, 34).

Paul was exceedingly joyful in all his tribulation (2 Corinthians 7:4), knowing that we must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22). He wanted to finish his race with joy (Acts 20:22-24), even though he knew that “chains and tribulations” were awaiting him. He knew that those who sow in tears shall reap in joy (Psalm 126:5), and that weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5).

Christ’s joy in us must endure. We cannot receive God’s Word with joy, only to stumble when persecution comes (Matthew 13:20-21). We cannot be like those who only rejoiced in John the Baptist’s presence for a while (John 5:35). Rather, we must hold fast the rejoicing of the hope firm to the very end (Hebrews 3:5-6).

To fully appreciate Christ’s joy in us, and how it works, we must realize that it is not selfish, but outgoing. Even when we rejoice that we understand the truth and have fellowship with God, we ought to realize that this is for a greater purpose. God called us today to train us to become teachers to teach others His truth when the time comes. Our salvation is not selfish–God is saving us today for a purpose. We are to help in proclaiming the gospel of the Kingdom of God in all the world as a witness, making it thereby possible for Christ to return and establish that very Kingdom here on earth to bring truth and peace and understanding and prosperity to this miserable and down-trodden hopeless humanity.

Jesus rejoiced and thanked the Father that He revealed His truth to “babes” (Luke 10:21). He was willing to become a man and to die for us, “for the joy that was set before Him” (Hebrews 12:2). Jesus was willing to set aside His divine attributes for a while, so that we could have eternal life with Him in the Family of God. This thought and this anticipation filled Him with joy, which was so strong that it motivated Him to suffer and die for us to make our salvation possible.

Jesus’ joy was in His true disciples as well. They greatly rejoiced when they heard about the conversion of Gentiles (Acts 15:3). Paul was filled with joy when he looked at the faith of those in Philippi, being confident that they would make it into the Kingdom (Philippians 1:3-6). He said that the brethren fulfilled his joy when they were likeminded (Philippians 2:1-2). He said that even though he had to die, the brethren should rejoice with him, knowing that they would see each other again at the “Day” of Christ’s Second Coming (Philippians 2:14-18). Paul rejoiced when he heard about the steadfastness of the faith of the brethren (Colossians 2:5). He said that the faithful enduring brethren were his joy and crown of rejoicing (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20).

John said too that he had no greater joy than to hear that the brethren–his spiritual “children”–walked in truth (3 John 4). We even read that there is joy in heaven when a sinner repents (Luke 15:7). God and the angels rejoice when a sinner turns to God and lives righteously. And that, in turn, should fill us with joy – we, too, should rejoice with God and the angels when a sinner repents and turns to the truth.

A true Christian is a happy person. He has so much for which he should be thankful. What a terrible tragedy it would be if he gave up and replaced the joy which he once had with feelings of doom and gloom. There is really no reason for a true Christian to despair or become depressed. When we have the joy of God in our lives, we should be glowing examples of joy and happiness.

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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