But the fruit of the Spirit is …
[May I have the envelope, please …]
Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)
Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you. (Luke 2:10-11)
I can spell Christmas with only three letters: J-O-Y! Go tell it on the mountain, over the hill, and everywhere, that Jesus Christ is born! The angel brought glad tidings of great joy! Not just joy — great joy.
Why was the birth of Jesus the cause of such great joy? Because God came down from heaven and did for us what none of us could ever do for ourselves. He lived a perfect life as the Son of God and died a perfect sacrifice in our place, so that God could forgive the sins of the whole world. And that gets personal when we realize it means my sins and yours. Paid for. Forgiven. Erased. Gone. Removed from us as far as the east is from the west.
When I realize what God’s grace has done for me, the only reaction I can possibly have is amazement, astonishment … joy. As Robert Capon has expressed it: “God has up and done the damnedest thing — or, to get the adjectives and the direction right — down and done the blessedest thing we ever could not have thought of.”
Do you ever wonder, with all the joy that is sung about and celebrated even in our secular culture at Christmas time, if people realize what the joy is all about? What an opportunity to tell them about it!
But we’re talking about more than just Christmas joy here — we’re talking about joy as a fruit of the Spirit. We’re talking about joy as a permanent attitude in my daily life. The fruit of the Spirit is joy, so that means you and I carry this around with us. We should be happy people to be around. If we’re not, it’s because we forgot.
I know because I can be kind of a drag. Ask my wife; she’s rolling her eyes right now. “Kind of a drag? You are a drag,” she would say. That’s because I worry too much. I bury my joy in fear and anxiety. I look to myself instead of looking to the Lord. We don’t lose the joy; we just cover it up. We always have it; we just forget our forgiveness of sins. We carry around guilt and extra baggage because we’re trying to pay for our own sins, and we’ve got the joy buried. Uncover it. It’s there; we just need to get rid of the negative thinking that covers it up, and get back to the grace of God.
This is all about grace for our own forgiveness and grace turned outward for the forgiveness of others. Jesus came to loose the chains, rend the veil, tear the curtain, open the grave, stomp on the serpent, and roll away the stone. After all of that has been accomplished, why would we ever want to go back to looking to ourselves for everything? Joy comes in the release of ourselves from bondage to the law.
The fruit of the Spirit is joy … against which there is no law.
In the town of Bethlehem
A king and ruler child was born
Not too many people noticed
Just some shepherds on their farm
Plus a few hundred thousand angels
Breaking the heavens with their song
And the rocks and the mountains joined them
For their time had come
God had promised a redeemer
Through the prophets’ willing tongue
Time had reached its culmination
To reveal His only Son
Born of a virgin child of the earth
With her seed conceived of God
Fully human, but in His veins
Flowed precious godly blood
And that precious blood was soon
To be poured out in cruel death
For the healing of the nations
And all those who feel His breath
Lift up your voice and sing to the heavens
With the angels sing your song
Jesus has come to wipe out the darkness
And take us to His home
From “Angels’ Song” by John Fischer