By contemplating the goodness of God, the attributes of God, the acts of God, the promises of God, the Word of God, and especially the gospel of God, we find we can actively begin to increase our sense of joy, and even happiness and contentment, in Christ. Contemplation of the Lord lifts our spirits in such a way that we are, in a sense, drawn nearer to God, and the closer our proximity to the Lord, the greater our sense of joy.
When the Apostle Paul is outlining the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23, he lists joy as the second fruit, directly after love. There seems to be a rather compelling reason for this. In Matthew 22:34-40, when Jesus is asked what commandment is the most important, He responds that the greatest and most important is to love the Lord God with all of one’s heart, soul, and mind (vs. 37-38), and then explains that the second most important commandment is to love one’s neighbor as oneself (vs. 39). When one loves in this way, they subsequently find themselves fulfilling the Law of God, since the first four of the Ten Commandments deal with loving God, and the latter half deal with loving neighbor. Since love is the fulfilment of the two tables of the Law, the one who truly loves God and others both fulfills the Law and glorifies God. This, of course, is only possible for the one who has been indwelt by the Holy Spirit.
God as the Source of Joy
It is in glorifying God that the Christian finds joy because the supreme object of the Christian’s love is God Himself. We delight in obedience to the Lord because we love His Law as a reflection of Himself. We delight when others see our good deeds and thus glorify our God in Heaven (Matt. 5:16) because there is nothing we love more than pointing others towards the true worship of the living God. We delight when God is exalted in our lives because, whether we live or die, we love to live for the Lord (Phil. 1:20-21).
Out of our love for God and neighbor, then, flows a supreme joy that simply cannot be replicated anywhere else, or by anyone else. As a fruit of the Spirit, the joy the Bible describes as belonging to the Christian is peculiarly the Christian’s only. Nonbelievers may be able to experience momentary happiness, or perhaps even sense a glimmer of joy according to the common grace of God, but pure and unadulterated joy comes from God and flows to the believer through the Holy Spirit.