For Bible study this week we did a word study on "joy." What does it mean to have joy? If I lack joy, am I missing the Holy Spirit, since a sign of having the Holy Spirit is joy?
I have always struggled with those questions, and with the guilt that came from not feeling joyful as I thought I should. But after meeting this morning and putting together everything we'd discovered and meditated on throughout the past two weeks (we didn't meet last week), I came to some incredible, freeing realizations:
1. Joy is not a feeling. It is from God; God's joy, not mine.
2. Joy is something God creates in us, not something we feel (Psalm 51).
3. In the Old Testament, joy is shown outwardly, as with the Holy Spirit (i.e. dancing, singing, the pillar of fire, the temple). Whereas in the New Testament joy is an inward manifestation of the Holy Spirit, and I become the outward symbol of Jesus (i.e. light, salt, temple).
How freeing to realize that joy isn't something that I have, it is something that God has and shares with me. This strips away all the guilt I have been feeling, and takes my focus off of me and places it back on God, where it rightfully should be.