[Note – All scriptures are quoted from the King James Version (KJV) unless otherwise noted. It’s the bible I’ve always used.]
How do I describe that moment when I realized something I’d been seeking for years was readily available for the receiving all along? Well first, I should say I was looking for the wrong thing. For longer than I care to admit, I felt a void in my life. No, it wasn’t God. I’ve been a Christian for decades and not just in words. I’ve actively nurtured our relationship since day one. Even so, I was unhappy more often than I was happy. My life wasn’t terrible. It wasn’t even bad. In fact, my life was good, very good. So why was I angry so often – even at the smallest things? Why was I so unhappy with my place in life? I wasn’t earning enough. I wasn’t doing enough. I wasn’t accomplishing enough. No matter what, it wasn’t enough. Then one day, not too long ago, everything changed. I found joy, or should I say, joy found me.
In a moment I realized, deep down, it wasn’t happiness I was lacking. It was joy. From that moment my outlook on everything changed. Even better, I realized this joy is something anyone can tap into, instantly and constantly. It is like a refreshing spring you can carry with you and drink from at any time. What about you? If you would like to tap into this spring of joy? Read on.
First there are some basic things you’ll need to know. What is joy? Is it available to have joy “on demand”? Can anyone learn to receive joy anytime, anywhere? The answers may surprise you. Let’s get started.
What is joy?
“Joy is anything from hilarity to calm delight” – Joyce Meyer
Joy itself is a feeling, an emotion. Rather than define joy, Joyce describes a range of the emotion, or, levels of intensity, if you will. While external factors can induce it, joy wells up from the inside.
The above quote is from the same teaching where I realized I could access joy right now. This wasn’t the main thrust of her teaching. In fact, it was a mere side comment, but the few words she spoke on this subject changed my life forever. What did she say that had such an impact?
She said we [Christians] already had joy. It is a fruit of the spirit. Well, duh! I knew that. I’ve read it countless times, but at that moment, what those words truly meant finally hit home. I have joy because it is a fruit of the spirit. So what? If I may, consider this analogy.
Suppose I’m sitting in the break room with a friend. My friend asks me for a dollar for a soda. Taking a dollar from my wallet I lay it on the table. Instead of taking it and getting his soda, he looks at me and asks for the dollar again. Incredulous, I look at him, look at the dollar, and look at him again. He asks for the dollar again. I say it’s on the table. He asks if he can use that dollar to get his soda. I say yes. Instead of getting his soda, he bemoans the fact he doesn’t have a dollar for a soda.
By now you are likely screaming, “just take the dollar and get the blasted soda!“. For this reason I am so glad God doesn’t scream. Yes, we can all be that thick headed. If you are born again of God’s spirit, the fruit of that spirit is yours for the taking. It’s on the table, so to speak. God didn’t give us this fruit and tell us directly it was there. Instead he put it in a letter (Galatians). We have to actually read the letter. Finally, Joyce told me (indirectly) the fruit was there and here I am telling you. Now the term “fruit of the spirit” is a figure of speech. A figure of speech in scripture is God’s way of emphasizing a truth. Just as physical fruit is nourishment for our bodies, spiritual fruit nourishes us Christians. The fruit of the spirit is listed in Galatians 5:22-23
Galatians 5:22,23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
All of this fruit is available to us as born-again children of God. All we need to do is receive it. How do I know this? I know it because I am living it. Here’s what happened that day I first heard this truth.
When I heard the words “we already have joy because it is a fruit of the spirit”, Joyce continued, “if you don’ have joy, it is you who are blocking it.” Wait a minute, I thought. AM I blocking my joy? Right away I prayed asking God to help me unblock whatever was keeping me from having joy. The response was instantaneous.
The joy I experienced was nothing like I expected. I didn’t leap from my chair shouting “Hallelujah!”. I wasn’t overwhelmed by a sensation strong enough to knock me over or drop me to my knees (had I been standing). It was more along the lines of that “calm delight”. It was a good, but undeniable feeling of well… joy. It gets better.
Since the blockage was removed, all I need do now is simply think the word “joy” and the feeling returns. Sometimes it is stronger and sometimes it is calmer but it has yet to fail to return. Each time it does, I thank my Heavenly Father for that joy. It is an indescribable blessing. And if that’s not enough…
I also find myself very much at peace. Peace is another fruit of the spirit. I don’t know if this is a bonus to receiving joy or of they simply show up together but both fruit are easily distinguished and right there. In addition, I’ve found I am much happier lately. Now happiness is not listed as a fruit of the spirit but it makes sense. It’s hard to be unhappy when I am full of joy.
What about the rest of the fruit of the spirit? This is all new to me so I’m still exploring. However I see no reason why all of the fruit of the spirit shouldn’t be readily accessible. As I learn more I’ll share what I know about the other fruit. Now, what about you?
Are you wondering if my experience is unique? Why should it be? I’m no better, no more spiritual, no more deserving than anyone else. From my experience, God doesn’t work that way. What I’ve found is God is faithful to give me what I ask for, as long as it is within His Will. (I’m still waiting for that pony.) Let’s take another gander at those questions I posed earlier.
What is joy? Joy is a fruit of the spirit. It is an emotion, a feeling that comes from within.
Is it available to have joy “on demand”? While I’m not very comfortable with “demanding” anything from my Heavenly Father, I’d say the short answer is “yes”. It is available for the asking, whenever we want or need it. While it may be more involved, I’ll get to the long answer in a bit.
Can you learn to receive joy “on demand” anytime, anywhere? Yes. I believe you can. First, get this in your head – you will not “receive” joy because you are especially “deserving or good”, any more than I or any of our siblings in Christ are “deserving or good”. If you are born again of God’s spirit, the fruit of the spirit is already one the table. It is already yours for the taking God gave it to us because because GOD is good and generous and loving.
[A quick note on the term “receiving” as this may cause a bit of confusion. In scripture there are to words meaning “to receive” and thus two things to consider. The first word “to receive” means to receive subjectively or per my analogy above, “to put it on the table”. It is yours for the taking but you must pick it up! The other word is to receive “into manifestation”. To put it simply, it essentially means to “pick up that dollar and get your soda.”]
So you already have all the fruit of the spirit. To receive joy into manifestation you just ask for it, if that. When you think about it, if you have, say, a bunch of grapes, do you ask before you pop on in your mouth? No. You just do it. As I stated earlier, I only need to think of joy to bring it on. The only asking I actually did was for help in removing whatever was blocking my joy.
What are the prerequisites?
Let me first state, unequivocally, “joy”, in itself, is not exclusive to Christians. Joy is available to all humans. I cannot speak for animals but you should see my dogs editors at dinnertime. That said, the joy I’m referring to here is specifically the fruit of the spirit. As near as I can tell it is the same emotion. What I feel as a fruit of the spirit is no different than what any unbeliever is capable of feeling.
That said, an unbeliever or “natural man” cannot receive any of the fruit of the spirit.
1 Corinthians 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
By now I’m sure most natural men (the word is not gender specific), have left by now, scoffing at how idiotic all this is. It is foolishness to them. Again, they are not precluded from experiencing those things mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23, they simply cannot enjoy them as fruit.
So why “fruit”? What’s the big deal? Again, this belongs to the more involved discussion and how all of this pertains to life as a Christian. For the time being, I’ll assume a bunch of facts not in evidence to get the heart of this article.
However the first prerequisite to receiving the fruit of the spirit, you must actually have spirit, that is, be born again of God’s spirit.
John 3:5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
Acts 19:2 He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.
3 And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism.
4 Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.
5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.
7 And all the men were about twelve.
[Note, the words “the Holy Ghost and Holy Ghost” here should read holy spirit, no article in verse 2, while the texts do include an article “the” in verse 6. The word translated “ghost” in the KJV is the Greek word “pneuma” meaning spirit. This is another topic but the presence or absence of the article “the” indicates the difference between the Giver (God, Who IS Spirit) and the gift of holy spirit.]
1 Peter 1:23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
Ephesians 1:13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
1 Corinthians 2:12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
If you are born again of God’s spirit, then you have access to the fruit of the spirit. Does the spirit created in you when you were born again (Eph 1:13,14; 2:12) automatically “produce” fruit? I can see no reason why it shouldn’t. As new creatures in Christ we are body, soul (breath life) and spirit. Our body and soul parts are those carnal, earthly parts of us and, as such, are corruptible. Our spiritual part is from God and is incorruptible. (I Peter 1:23) Thus, my understanding indicates it is not the availability of the fruit that hinders us but the accessibility. God does not hinder us, we handcuff ourselves. How?
Well, sin, for one thing, for another unforgiveness can (will?) interfere with receiving fruit.
Now I’ve heard some teach that God won’t hear our prayers, much less bless us when we are in sin. I’m not buying that. God allowed His only begotten Son, Jesus, to die for us while we were yet in sin. He seeks us out, even when we are denying His Son, not to mention God Himself. God can handle sin, of this I am convinced. Sin does not separate God from us, we separate ourselves from God when we are in sin.
Romans 2:4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?
Surely, Jesus died to pay for our sins with his precious, innocent blood. He was raised for our justification. This is true. It is also true we are not expected to never sin after accepting Christ, but we are admonished to live a godly life.
Titus 2:12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;
1 Peter 1:16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
Matthew 6:14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Romans 4:25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.
If you are holding a grudge, if you refuse to forgive someone, you could be blocking not only the fruit of the spirit but your own forgiveness.
Ephesians 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
While the verse in Ephesians declares God has already forgiven us, for Christ’s sake, why should any of us hold a grudge and refuse to forgive someone?
Also, if you are practicing sin in your life, you may still be able to receive the fruit of the spirit, but it will be short-lived at best. Once you return to your sinful acts, the fruit will likely vanish.
For me, I habitually begin my prayers by forgiving anyone I may have anything against and then asking for forgiveness for my sins. As for practicing sin, at least for the time being I believe I am free of such things. While this doesn’t mean it is impossible to fall into such a trap, I can only pray to avoid them. Thus, when I came to the realization that the fruit of spirit, specifically, joy was available, it was a simple matter of asking God to help me remove anything blocking me. To this day I don’t know what that block was. All I know is it is now gone. There are other times in my life where I’m sure this would not be as easy. Now, every time I just think the word “joy”, I feel it rush in. I try to be sure to thank my Heavenly Father every time this happens. So… what about you?
Assuming you are one of my siblings in Christ, if you haven’t tried it already, give it a shot now. Be sure you are in a quiet place. Take a deep breath then let it out. Close your eyes. Ask for the fruit of joy. If you do not immediately receive it, lift up a prayer to God, forgiving anyone you have anything against. Ask for forgiveness for any sins against God or anyone else. Then ask Him to help you remove anything blocking joy in your life.
Seize the joy.
Please let me know how this worked for you. The fruit of the spirit is ripe for the picking. Future articles will explore ways to make the ground more fertile to increase the yield.
Further guidance on figures of speech:
To better understand figures of speech, it may help to understand parables. What is a parable, exactly? A parable is an expanded figure of speech, it is a story told to illustrate a truth. Figures of speech are used extensively in the Bible. Other figures of speech are identified as proverbs, fables, allegory, metaphor, etc. E.W. Bullinger published an extensive reference of figures of speech used in the bible in 1898. His work has rarely been exhaustively studied, much less duplicated. In his book, “Figures of Speech Used in the Bible”, Bullinger identified 217 figures cited in nearly 8,000 passages.
FYI: the Greek words “to receive”:
In case you are wondering there are two Greek words meaning “to receive” – dechomai (G1209) – receiving subjectively and (G2983) lambanō to receive into manifestation. These are the meanings I was taught decades ago. The given definitions in the BLB differ somewhat, however I am confident the meanings given here will hold up.