“The fruit of the Spirit is … joy”
Galatians 5:22 NIV
People sometimes confuse pleasure with joy. Anyone can have pleasure. People with no knowledge of Jesus Christ or of the Holy Spirit can have harmless, innocent and wholesome pleasures. And no doubt the Creator designed the world so that there would be such enjoyments. Someone said that “All the animals, excepting man, know that the principal business of life is to enjoy it”.
But pleasure depends on circumstances. Christian joy doesn’t. Pleasure needs good health, and usually good weather. Pleasure can be marred by minor irritations – like tooth-ache. Deeply committed Christians, filled with the Holy Spirit, know the joy of Jesus when health, and strength and friends are gone. “Who that heard Father Brown of the Oxford mission to Calcutta talk on hilaritas, and gladness of heart could ever forget it? – or forget either that this man who would arrive with peals of laughter, was hobbling along with a painful and incurable disease. ‘Joy is the sign of spiritual maturity’” (W. E. Sangster, The Pure in Heart, p111).
Pleasures come and go. The joy of God is constant. It doesn’t falter with the passing years. In some it grows and increases with a developing awareness of grace and hope. Pleasure satiates. You can have so much that you ask yourself “What’s this all about?” What tickles you for a while may fade and impress you no more.
Pleasure remains superficial. Joy is deep. “It bubbles from utter contentment. The smile is not only on the lips but in the eyes and in the heart. It may flame into rapture or sink into peace, but it possesses the whole personality. It is true bliss” (W. E. Sangster, The Pure in Heart, p111). Revel in the joy of Jesus!
Lord, help me to laugh in Christ.