Wrestling hard over the messages for the missions conference. The biggest difficulty is not how to define the Joy of the Lord, any number of Bible passages speak to that. Its how to stop myself. How to do it succinctly. Here are the three provisional points I have written. They will get refined as I do some more text work:
- The joy of the Lord is the delight that Christians have in being satisfied in the Lordship of Jesus. Phil 3:1; 4:4 “rejoice in the Lord.” Puts the word “lord” in quite deliberately. Rejoice that you have a ruling, wonderful king to whom you belong. I use the word “be satisfied” quite deliberately. We have joy in the things we rejoice in. And we rejoice in the things that bring us satisfaction. The joy of the Lord is the greatest of all joy because he is the person in whom we find the greatest satisfaction for our souls, and therefore the person over whom we do the greatest rejoicing
- The joy of the Lord is a settled character trait that the Holy Spirit produces in us as we rest in Christ. Gal 5:22, the fruit of the Spirit is Love, joy… And that is especially the case as we actively believe. We reckon on our belief and act on it. So Rom 15:13 “may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing.” And it is even more especially the case as we hope – that is we actively believe and act on our hope of heaven. So, Romans 5:2: we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God
- The joy of the Lord is the fresh appetite we get for God when we accept that we have no righteousness of our own, but accept that Jesus Christ is all our righteousness. And it overwhelms earthly appetites for food or drink or sex or success with desire for the Kingdom. Romans 14:17: the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Delight, Spirit-empowered character, appetite, hunger, desire for God, rejoicing in the righteousness of Christ. When the Psalmist cries “I am consumed with longing for you” and our hearts leap, that’s it. That’s the joy of the Lord I am talking about.