Thought for the Week by Dr Mark Kirk

by Struthers Cumbernauld

'And the fruit of the Spirit is ... joy.' Galatians 5:22

Joy can be defined as a feeling of great pleasure or happiness.

Before this world  began, God existed as Father, Son and Holy Spirit in a relationship of glory and joy.  With expert wisdom and miracle, God created man in His own image, and part of this was the ability of man to sense and feel joy.  After man sinned and rebelled against God, the effects of that sin took a grip of the hearts of men, we experienced, for the first time, sorrow and misery.  Despite our folly and ruin, God had a plan that would bring full restoration for man, and return us to the joy and glory that we were made for.  This plan had its centre in one person: Jesus Christ.

In every nook and cranny of the New Testament scriptures, the authors of the books express the joy that comes when a life is lived in union with Christ.  Even as Jesus was being born, the glorious angels, arrayed in bright light, announced the news with the tremendous words:  'I bring you good news of great joy.'  Great joy it was, for the One who is Himself joy, in purest form, had been born into a world full of misery and sorrow, in order to bring man into a right relationship with God again; a relationship overflowing with happiness, love and joy.

Speaking to his disciples, Jesus said 'these things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and  that your joy may be full.'  In his letter to the Christians in the city of Philippi, Paul encourages us to 'rejoice always'.  Peter says ' though you do not see him now, you rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory.'  Many who know Him can reminisce on times when we have felt the ecstasy of the Spirit as Christ draws near: it is indeed a joy that is inexpressible at times.  We remember how our hearts have felt almost bursting with joy at the miracle of what He has done for us.

The Christian experience is one of complete joy.  It is not a religion of rules and rites, nor is it one of striving and straining to reach a place of perfection .  The work has been done.  It is finished.  Christ has conquered all.  Everlasting joy has crowned us and for this we, with great joy, give Him all the praise and the glory forever.