The Fruit of The Lips: Joy

FOTL 3-2

What is Joy?

Joy is an emotion, an expression, and a condition (think sorrowful, yet always rejoicing - a state of joy)


We have the words joy, rejoice, and enjoy (to make glad) – feeling, expression, and condition.


What we want to take a look at today is how the scriptures teach us to bear the fruit of joy through our speech.


The Joy of The Lord

And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people wept as they heard the words of the Law. Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”” (Nehemiah 8:9–10, ESV)

God had brought many of the Israelites back home from Persian exile, blessed them as they rebuilt the city walls through much persecution and provocation, and humbled them to tears as Ezra read the law to their weary souls. But Nehemiah reminds the people of God to turn from their mourning, to eat with gladness, not to be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is their strength.

We can often think of God as being severe. We are familiar with our sin and  unworthiness, and we know that He is great and Holy, so often our default assumption is that He is annoyed with us–that He is a bean counter, weighing the scales of our deeds. But the Bible is filled with story after story of a happy God. It is His joy to love; to pursue; to give grace; to give instruction; to give example; to take responsibility; to be patient. In short, we have an impression of a God who is overwhelming expressing His joy.

By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I 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 be in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:8–11, ESV)

We glorify the Father by bearing the fruits of love and joy. Or, maybe more accurately, we glorify the Father by bearing the fruit of love in our joy. Do we prove that we love God by obeying His commandments, or do we obey His commandments because we love Him? We know that we can obey without love, but if we abide in love, then we will obey, just as Jesus has kept his father’s commandments and abides in His love. The result is glory, and the effect is a communion in the fullness of joy.

Listen to how Jesus expresses His ambitions for us in His ‘High Priestly Prayer’ from John 17:

But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” (John 17:13–23, ESV)

What is it that Jesus wants? He wants His joy and communion with the Father to be extended to us and for that joy to bear testimony that the world may know that God has loved us even as He loves His only begotten son.

God is for your joy. And God expects that the testimony of our redemption is aided by the witness of our great joy in God and His great joy in us.

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11, ESV)

[Plug Desiring God by John Piper]

God does not redeem a man into a communion of fear, shame, guilt, obligation, or ostracization. He does redeem us into joy, family, forgiveness, love, patience, and providence.


A Sacrifice of Praise

“Hear, O my people, and I will speak; O Israel, I will testify against you. I am God, your God. Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you; your burnt offerings are continually before me. I will not accept a bull from your house or goats from your folds. For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field is mine. “If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are mine. Do I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats? Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and perform your vows to the Most High, and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.” But to the wicked God says: “What right have you to recite my statutes or take my covenant on your lips? For you hate discipline, and you cast my words behind you. If you see a thief, you are pleased with him, and you keep company with adulterers. “You give your mouth free rein for evil, and your tongue frames deceit. You sit and speak against your brother; you slander your own mother’s son. These things you have done, and I have been silent; you thought that I was one like yourself. But now I rebuke you and lay the charge before you. “Mark this, then, you who forget God, lest I tear you apart, and there be none to deliver! The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!”” (Psalm 50:7–23, ESV)

Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth. Selah Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you!” (Psalm 67:4–5, ESV)

Much greater than the sacrifices of bulls or goats is the sacrifice of praise–lips that bear testimony of a heart that loves God and is thankful to Him.

We often want to pay God off with our deeds and offerings while getting choked up in words of praise. That’s because praise acknowledges insufficiency in the self as it depends on another. Praise is in direct combat with pride. But God would much rather us give simple words of thanks in genuine love than to give a thousand of gifts with a hardened heart.

Sometimes we need to be reminded of the great joys that God has given us. We can grow hardened to people as we bear offenses over time, or grow cold in affection, becoming slow to praise, indifferent, and apathetic. And sometimes we need the shock of perspective. As David prayed, “Lord, restore to me the joy of my salvation”. Some of us need to pray that prayer, or pray for God to restore the joy of our marriage or our parenting. We need to see. I can think of times in my marriage where God has graciously restored the joy, calling my attention to all the grace given to me in Chelsea and overcoming my criticisms with joyful praise. I think of A Christmas Carol where Scrooge is able to see all of the coldness of his heart and how that affects people as they grow and he wants to do nothing but give at the next available chance. I think of the movie Interstellar where Matthew McConaughey’s character get’s these transmissions from his children while he is in space. And for every day he is there is seven years on earth. So he’s watching his children grow and he’s watching them pull away from him relationally and he’s screaming at the camera “No!, No!” and I get the sense that nothing is complicated at that moment. All he wants to do is be there with arms around his children, praising them and giving them love. And some of us need that moment. To have perspective on how our indifference is affecting our homes and how our silence is a foolish and prideful thing. We have lost perspective of all of the grace, but love takes all of the dynamics that we think are complicated and swallows them up with gratitude.


Good Medicine

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” (Proverbs 17:22, ESV)

Joy and cynicism can be infectious, one drying up the bones of those who have the displeasure of sharing their company, and the other bringing hope and healing and life. Joy has the ability to expand beyond itself and encourage others, strengthening their weariness, and causing new perspective.

Joy carries a gravitas, pulling people into what it sees and loves.


Rejoice In Suffering

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:3–9, ESV)

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:1–5, ESV)

Though we will have various trials in our life, our hope is a living hope-the Son of God who rose from the dead has given us an undefiled, unfading, and imperishable inheritance which is guarded by God’s power, not our own. So even when our faith is going through the refinery, praise comes even when we can’t see the other side. And through life God gives seasons of the refinery and seasons of the fruit. We find that God isn’t cruel or that He delights in our suffering. He isn’t indifferent to our needs or impotent to change them. He is maturing us and loving us and saving us. And in this, we rejoice, even in sufferings.


In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”” (Mark 1:9–11, ESV)

This brief scene captures the essence of what is so good about the good news. Here is the Son about the Father’s business, serving in joy. Here is the Father delighting in His Son and making that delight seen, known, and felt. Jesus is the beloved son, with whom God is pleased. And this relationship is the desire of all mankind—to be not only accepted, but delighted in by God, at peace with Him, motivated in work and productivity under His blessing and for His glory. In this exchange, all is right with the cosmos.

It is this perfect relationship that is precisely what is offered to us who kiss the Son. The good news is that God so loves the world that He gave this only begotten and beloved Son that whosoever believe in Him may not perish but have eternal life—a life under the delight of God the Father, a brother to the Son, and filled with the Holy Spirit, a part of their joy in each other. For so many of us, we yearn to hear the words that Jesus heard—the pleasure and comfort and security that would come from our father’s delight. And in Christ, this is precisely what we get. That same pleasure bestowed upon the Son is now bestowed upon us, the adopted. Those who get the good news of salvation are those who also receive the good news of adoption, and whose hearts cry out without fear, Abba! (Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6).


Ending Prayer

  “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14, ESV)