Part II: Joy
Joy: Greek word, chara. (Pronounced Kara)
Galatians 5:24a But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy....
Again we find that the Biblical concept of Joy goes way beyond what our definition would be today. It is not necessarily just a feeling of happiness, although that is part of it. Paul here is bringing into the equation both the Old Testament concept of Joy and the contemporary meaning in Greek society as the original hearers would have understood it.
First, let's look at some of the ways that this word is used in the Old Testament. This is a small sampling. There are many, many views of Joy in the Old Testament and New Testament alike.
1) Rejoicing in the Lord because of His deliverance. (1 Samuel 2:1)
2) A feeling of Joy and rejoicing because of the Lord's Provision. (Psalms 4)
3) Righteousness given by the Lord brings joy. (Psalms 97)
4) The feeling one has because the Lord will justify His People, but will punish the wicked. (Isaiah 65)
5) The feeling of security one has because the Lord is taking care of them. (Zechariah 10)
The New Testament likewise uses the concept of Joy in a full way as well. Here are some examples.
1) The Joy one has when they are with the bridegroom. (Cf. Matthew 9:15; Mark 2:19; Mark 2:20; Luke 5:34; Luke 5:35)
2) The Feeling we have when we have belief and faith. (1 Peter 1:8)
3) They rejoice when the suffer trials because of identification with Jesus' sufferings and the fact that he will come again.. (1 Peter 4:13, Hebrews 10:34)
4) They have joy in the HOPE we have in Jesus. (Romans 12)
5) The Joy that is felt...even in the unborn, when in the presence of Jesus. (Luke 1:43-45)
The point here is that there are many nuances to the word JOY. All of these are used to define the 2nd fruit of the Spirit. The people that Paul was writing to would have realized each of them. We must not allow our narrow definitions and concepts of the words to limit what the Spirit gives.
It is also important to remember that Joy, in our human condition is limited. However, as a fruit of the Spirit, it is not limited. So while we experience the Joy as a fruit of the Spirit now, we will fully realize its scope when we meet the LORD face to face. At that time, our joy will be made complete.
May all of you who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ experience the fullness of Joy that the Lord has given to each of you.