“Rejoice evermore” (I Thessalonians 5:16)
In Galatians 5:22, Paul, inspired by God, speaks about the Fruit of the Spirit. In the last article, I discussed the first Fruit of the Spirit that Paul mentioned, which is Love. The next Fruit of the Spirit on the list is Joy.
The apostle Paul epitomized what it means to choose joy in our lives, no matter what we may be facing on a daily basis. When the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to pen many of his epistles or books in the New Testament, he was being imprisoned by the Romans for merely preaching the Word of God. It is during this imprisonment that Paul tells us to “rejoice evermore” in I Thessalonians 5:16.” He also tells us, “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.” (Romans 15:13). In Philippians 4:4, Paul tells us to “rejoice in the Lord always; and again I say, Rejoice.” We should always be rejoicing, because we have by the Grace of God through our obedience the forgive us of our sins, and if we “stay the course” and remain faithful unto death, we have our Hope of Heaven realized in the end! (Romans 12:12).
Other followers of Christ who were inspired by God to tell us to be joyful Christians are James, the earthly half-brother of Jesus. James did not become a follower of Christ until Christ’s death and resurrection, even though he was raised by the same earthly parents (Matthew 13:55). Of course, He is the half-brother of the Lord, because while his father was Joseph, the Father of Christ is God the Father (Matthew 1:19-25, John 3:16).
According to external sources, James was murdered during the reign of the Roman Emperor, Nero, for preaching the Gospel of Christ, and he faced many persecutions. It is said that his knees were callused due to the amount of time he spent on his knees in prayer every day. James tells us to be joyful even when we are being persecuted for being faithful Christians. “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” (James 1:2-4).
When we are being mistreated merely because we are faithful followers of Christ, we may find it challenging to be joyful, however, James shows us that it is indeed possible to choose joy in trying times.
How many of us would work to be joyful in the situations that Paul, James, and other followers of Christ faced throughout history? Often times, when the slightest thing doesn’t go our way, many of us allow this to affect how joyful we are. But, as Christians, we are to be joyful, just as these men tell us to be in the Holy Scriptures.
In times of happiness and prosperity in our lives, it is easy to be joyful. However, when we face trials and tribulations as Christians, we still have to choose joy, and learn to put things into the proper perspective. There will be times of weeping (Romans 12:15), but the blessings of Christ in our lives (Ephesians 1:3) bring us lives that are in general filled with joy.
When we put God First in our lives, everything else will fall into place. That doesn’t mean that we will not face persecution, or deal with tragedies and trials in our lives. What it means is that no matter what happens in this temporary world with its temporary problems, we have an eternal home and an eternity of joy and peace to look forward to after this life is over!
A very wise preacher once said that the meaning of Joy is this;
J = Jesus
O = Nothing
Y = You
In the word, JOY, the J stands for Jesus, the Y stands for You, and the O stands for Nothing. So, having JOY in your life means NOTHING stands between JESUS and YOU! May we all live our lives with the Joy that only faithful children of God can have, so that we can have the best lives here on the earth, help to convert others, and have the greatest Joy of all in eternity!