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Focus on joy

by Jim Willis | May 1, 2021 at 2:41 a.m.

Gal 5:22 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, :23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit let us keep in step with the Spirit.”

I gave up on making New Year’s Resolutions many years ago… They were just impossible to keep. Two weeks after making them I was back to my old habits, off the diet, quit the exercise program, etc. In 2020, I decided instead of New Year’s Resolutions, I would pick a word which would become my focus for the year. What better place to pick a focus word than from God’s Holy Word, the Bible. I found the source of my “Focus Word” in the fruit of the Spirit from Galatians 5:22-25. This list will probably supply me with “Focus Words” for the rest of my life… but there are other “Focus Words” I can find in other places in the Bible. I am confident I have a supply for a long time!

In his little devotional book entitled “Nine Fruits of the Spirit,” Robert Strand tells an ancient Middle Eastern fable. It seems there were three merchants crossing the desert. They chose to travel at night and rest during the day so as not to travel in the heat. As they were traveling one night over a dry creek bed they heard a loud voice out of the darkness commanding them to stop. They were ordered to get down off their camels, stoop down, pick up pebbles from the creek bed and put them in their pockets. The mysterious voice told them that in the morning they would be both Happy and Sad.

Upon doing as they were commanded, they were told to leave and continue on their way until dawn before they stopped to set up camp. The strange voice told them that in the morning they would be both sad and happy. They were naturally shaken, and obeyed the voice and travelled through the night without stopping. When morning broke, these three merchants anxiously looked into their pockets. Instead of fining the pebbles as they expected, there were precious jewels! Just as the voice had said they were both sad and happy. Happy because they had picked up some of the pebbles, but Sad because they had not gathered more when they could have.

This little fable reminds us of the many precious jewels to be found in God’s word and especially in studying and meditating of the Fruit of the Spirit.

My “Focus Word” for 2020 was JOY. The Greek word for JOY is XAPíA (chara, pronounced khar-ahi) which means cheerfulness, calm delight; gladness multiplied greatly, to be exceedingly full of joy! JOY can be found in some of the strangest places and is not always dependent on our circumstances. We are surrounded by natural joy… joy in the beauty of nature. There is joy in human relationships. There is joy in knowing you have done a job well… But at the most these kinds of joy are only fleeting

The kind of JOY that is pure and lasting is found in Jesus when he is your heart. If you are as old as I am, you may remember a Bible School song called “I’ve Got The Joy, Joy Joy, Joy Down in my Heart.” Circumstance may be bad. The Apostle James said, “Consider it pure JOY, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that testing of your faith develops perseverance” (James 1: 2-3).

Study the Fruit of the Spirit and choose to FOCUS ON JOY. It will surprise how it will pop up and become a part of your life.

James E. “Jim” Willis is writing this week in the stead of Scott Johnson.

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