But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! (Galatians 5:22-23, NLT)
The second fruit that the Holy Spirit produces in our lives is joy. Joy is a condition that we all experience as human beings. Joy can be a feeling. It comes naturally as a result of favorable circumstances, such as the birth of a child. When the angel appeared to Zechariah to announce that Elizabeth would give birth, he said that they, as well as many others, would experience joy at the birth of the child (Luke 1:13-15). Joy as a feeling is not something that we can just command to happen. In Psalm 137:3, the psalmist points to this fact when he says that the Israelites could not just sing a song of joy at the command of their captors.
But the joy that Paul is speaking of in Galatians 5:22 is not joy as a feeling. It is, rather, joy as an action. It is the type of joy that Scripture tells us we should choose to have at all times (Philippians 4:4; 1 Thessalonians 5:16). It is the joy that is experienced regardless of our circumstances, even when those circumstances are trials and tribulations (James 1:2). Jesus tells us that when we face trials or persecution because of our belief in Him, we are blessed. As a result of our trials, the reward that we receive in heaven is a great reward, and so we should feel joy (Matthew 5:11-12).
The type of joy that is a fruit of the Spirit is the joy that Jesus experienced. Despite the fact that He was to face suffering and death on a cross, Jesus felt joy. His joy came as a result of His obedience to the will of the Father, from knowing that His own suffering would result in our salvation (Hebrews 12:2). We can experience that same kind of joy, a joy in adverse circumstances. Jesus has promised us that kind of joy when we abide in Him (John 15:7-11). When we choose to follow Christ, we also allow the Holy Spirit to dwell in us, and He will produce in us that kind of joy.
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.