“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” – John 15:9-11
The second fruit of the Spirit that Paul taught the churches in Galatia is joy. Similar to love, there are good and important things to learn about joy, especially as it’s a fruit that should be consistently manifest in our lives. In the preceding context of John 15, Jesus likens Himself to a vine and those who profess His name to the branches of this vine (John 15:1–3). As branches take part in the vine to yield fruit, so too must we abide in Christ to bear spiritual fruit. In verse 11 of this passage, Jesus explained why He had taught the disciples these things: “that my joy may remain in you and that your joy may be full.”
Notice three things in His instruction:
1) The joy that Jesus desires to see in us is His joy. He is the author, source and giver of this joy. Like love, He graciously and abundantly gives it to us. Further, His desire is to see it bearing fruit in us.
2) Christ wants His joy to remain in us. He wants us to have a permanent joy, not a roller-coaster ride of moods shifting between joy and misery. It’s important that we know there is a difference between happiness and godly joy. Our happiness may wax and wane, but the key to a Christian’s joy is its source, which is our Lord. If we are abiding in Christ and He in us, then that relationship isn’t an occasional experience. We always have a reason for joy in Christ!
3) Jesus also distinguishes between His joy and our joy, and expresses the desire that our joy should be full: “And that your joy may be full.” This is what we should desire also. We don’t want a partial portion of the fruit of the Spirit.
We don’t want just a little bit of joy. We want all of the joy that the Father has stored up for His people. That fullness of joy comes from Christ. It is first His joy that He gives to us, and as we are joined to Him, this joy that comes from Him grows, increases, and becomes full. There is a fullness that awaits us as the fruit of the Spirit is nurtured by the true vine.
Beloved, all of our attempts to find joy will be futile if we search for sources apart from Christ. We can’t make ourselves joyful in our own power. But as we live in Christ, His perfect joy will dwell in us and make our experience of joy ever more consistent and full.