Real Joy is Not Skin Deep

Do you know the difference in true joy and being joyful with what is going on around you? Does it take happy circumstances to bring you joy? Does your joy run much deeper than that?

The real question is, “Do you have joy, and do you know the source?”

Every wondered how in Acts 16 Paul and Silas could sit in prison and sing praises to God? How many of us would sit in prison after being beaten and sing praises to God?

I am not sure that would have been my response. Actually, I am pretty sure my response would have been more about the pain I was feeling and the discomfort of my predicament. If my response would have been what Paul’s response was, I would not find it so remarkable.

Our response to situations tends to be about how we feel about the situation. It tends to rely on circumstances and our mood. Paul’s focus was beyond what was going on in this world. Paul never lost sight of Jesus.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
Galatians 5:22-24

In Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, he writes “joy, by which may be understood cheerfulness in conversation with our friends, or rather a constant delight in God.”

Notice that joy is 2-fold. Joy is seen in our actions, and joy is a response to God or rather a constant delight in God. If joy ultimately is a constant delight in God, that would take in Paul and Silas being able to sing praises after they had been beaten and thrown in prison.

How do we keep our focus on God and maintain a constant delight in God? We know joy is a fruit of the Spirit. We must be saved in order to be able to have that. What else?

What I have noticed in my own life is that the more surrendered I become to God and to His will, the more fruit of the Spirit I am able to experience. The closer we are to God, the more joy we have because our faith is naturally stronger. When we know that God is in control, we see His hand in everything. It becomes easier for us to keep our eyes on Jesus.

What happened to Paul and Silas in Acts 16? They were released, but not before God used them to make a difference. After the earthquake that loosened their bands and threw the doors open, the keeper and his whole house came to know Jesus.


Today’s challenge is to consider what you need to put into the perspective of God is in control, and God knows exactly what He is doing. What do you need to surrender in order to have that constant delight in God?

Most of the time our woes come from holding on too tightly to what we think is a good thing. We tend to think that we know best. When we let go and let God, He can use us – like He used Paul and Silas – in trying circumstances to make a difference.