“For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17).
If you’ve followed me for very long, you know that I love the word righteousness and all that means for the believer. Therefore, this scripture (along with many, many others) is highlighted in my Bible for the sheer fact that it mentions our right-standing with God. And as a studier, I have meditated on this passage with intrigue, asking the Lord what it means.
Righteousness, of course, is our position with God, as well as a description of our spiritual clothing and activity.
Peace is the manifest presence of God–the overall sense of freedom despite natural surroundings or circumstances.
Both of these words would be fun to look at deeper, but it’s the last phrase, “joy in the Holy Spirit” that I’d like to focus on because joy is something the world lacks. Why, you ask? Because joy is a fruit of the Spirit. The world can offer momentary happiness, but never fullness of joy.
Even Webster’s Dictionary has differing views of happiness versus joy:
- Joy is an emotion of great delight (or happiness) caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying
- Happiness describes a state of being delighted, or glad, as over a particular thing, indicative of pleasure or joy
In both definitions, you’ll find the use of the other word because the world doesn’t know the true source of joy until they meet the Giver of Joy. Happiness can be (and is) experienced for momentary pleasure, but it is fleeting–meaning it can go as quick as it came. But joy is based on salvation and is oftentimes hard to explain. “Whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8).
I could never exhaust an explanation of God or salvation to another person (believer or unbeliever) because there aren’t enough words. I think this is why Peter said it is joy unspeakable. But I can tell you I’ve experienced times of great joy that can only be described as full of glory!
I like how one author describes it: “Joy is an essential spiritual practice growing out of faith, grace, gratitude, hope, and love. It is the pure and simple delight in being alive” (unknown). The reason the world can’t experience true joy (although they use this word) is because a person doesn’t know what it really means to have life until you have eternal life. The Bible says, “You will show me the path of life; in your presence is fullness of joy…” (Psalm 16:11). “Therefore with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation” (Isaiah 12:3).
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It is the by-product of a life saved, redeemed, and set apart. It is the overwhelming emotion of gratitude and rejoicing all rolled up in one. And it is within you!
“The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20-21). And the kingdom of God is “righteousness, peace, and JOY in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17). Therefore, joy is available to us 24/7. All we have to do is tap into it by meditating on Jesus and what we’ve been given through Him. Despite outside influences and circumstances, we can have joy at all times.
So I want to encourage you today to draw from the wells of your salvation. Joy is available for you right now!