Galatians 5:22 (NASV)
As far as I am concerned the late Scotsman William Barclay, who authored The Daily Bible Study Series, is one of the twentieth century’s foremost Bible commentators. I can always rely upon him to interpret the scriptures in such a way that I gain new insights.
Of this particular gift of the Spirit, Barclay makes these terse statements. “Joy, the Greek chara, and the characteristic of this word is that it most often describes the joy which has a basis in religion. It is not the joy that comes from earthly things, still less from triumphing over someone else in competition. It is a joy whose foundation is God.”
Reflecting on Barclay’s comments about joy, I am reminded of the old children’s song, “Down In My Heart.” The first verse has these words: “I have the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart, down in my heart, down in my heart. I have the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart, down in my heart to stay.” Because that joy is so deep down in my heart, it could not have been imparted to me by anyone other than God. Because that joy is so deep down in my heart, it is there to stay and no one or no thing can take that joy away from me. That joy was given to me when I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord. Barclay is correct in saying that the joy has a basis in religion and its foundation is God.
In contrast to joy, happiness seems to be temporary and most often based on the circumstances or conditions one is experiencing at the time. Joy is lasting and is independent of situations. The knowledge that God loves me and cares for me gives me joy “down in my heart,” even when I experience hardships and trials in my life. The last verse of the song has these words: “I have the love of Jesus, love of Jesus, down in my heart, down in my heart, down in my heart. I have the love of Jesus, love of Jesus, down in my heart, down in my heart to stay.” Because I have the love of Jesus down in my heart, I also have that joy, which is not subject to earthly conditions and is solely attributable to God. Thanks be to God!
Dear God, thank you for all of the things that bring me happiness. Regardless of whatever my circumstances may be, I am grateful for the joy that I have deep down in my heart that comes from knowing Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord. Amen