How do we define joy? What do we think of when we hear the word? For some people, they may think of a perfume:

Others may think of happiness, that good feeling when something goes right (your team wins at football, you go on holiday, you watch the latest Doctor Who episode, you win a prize…) We even talk about ‘jumping for joy’ to capture that sense of elation and well-being:

Garry preached on the subject of joy this morning, looking at what the Bible teaches us about this subject. That ‘jump for joy’ word in Greek is agaillaio, meaning ‘to exult, rejoice exceedingly, be exceedingly glad’, giving us the idea of a spring of water gushing up and shooting out.

Nehemiah 8:10 tells us that ‘the joy of the Lord is your strength’.

John 16:16-23 also looks at the promise Jesus gave His disciples that they would rejoice and no one would be able to take away that joy. God wants us to rejoice because He is joyful (Zeph 3:17 tells us that God rejoices over us with singing). Jesus was well acquainted with sorrow (Isaiah 53 calls Him the ‘man of sorrows’) and grief, but Hebrews 12:1-3 shows us that it was for the joy set before Him that gave Him the motivation to endure all He suffered on the cross. Jesus valued us so much that our salvation outweighed all the suffering. In the same way, He urged His disciples to ‘rejoice and be glad’ even when they faced persection, insults and slander (Matthew 5:11-12). We can only do this as we learn the value of what will be (see Hebrews 10:32-35).

What do we rejoice in? Jesus told us not to rejoice in the suffering of our enemies but to love them. He also told us to rejoice not in power or authority but in the fact that our names are written in heaven (Luke 10:17-20). We rejoice in our salvation, purchased by God, in the fact that we have a new birth, a living hope and an inheritance that will never perish, spoil or fade:

“In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.” (1 Pet 1: 3-6)

We rejoice ultimately because of the revelation that we have of God and in the fact that any happenings we face are God-happenings, only allowed into our lives to shape us into the image of Christ.

After that sermon, you just wanted to sing about joy! – the song ‘Set Free’ starts with the line ‘Joy, joy, unspeakable joy’, which sums up all Garry had to say!