We do not need our dream job to find joy in our work. Many people mistakenly believe they will find fulfillment in their career after they find their dream job. This dangerous perspective implies that joy is dependent upon our circumstances. If our situation is not ideal, then we will not have joy. The good news is that biblical joy is not dependent upon our circumstances, but it is a result of the Spirit’s work in our lives.
This is the third article in a series about applying the fruit of the Spirit in our workplace. In the first article we mentioned that the Holy Spirit will provide spiritual fruit in our work when we seek His presence. In the second article we discussed how biblical love can produce eternal investments in the workplace. And in this third installment we will examine how joy is the result of seeking the presence of God in our work.
Defining Biblical Joy
Joy is a gift that we receive. Striving to have a positive attitude will help us find more enjoyment in life, but biblical joy is a far greater gift than trying to be happy. We can seek the best in each day, but without the presence of Christ, this will often lead to prioritizing our own interests above the interests of others. Biblical joy is an incredible gift that we receive when we seek the Holy Spirit’s will in our daily lives.
Previously in this series, we established that experiencing the fruit of the Spirit is a work of the Spirit and not of our own doing. According to Galatians 5, there are nine characteristics that constitute the fruit of the Spirit, and each of these will become more common in our lives as we surrender to the will of the Holy Spirit. Like love, joy is the product of the Spirit-led life. Instead of just happiness, biblical joy is contentment in life that is rooted in the hope of Christ and that comes from surrender to the Holy Spirit. Often, we think we know how our lives work best, but the closer we follow the Spirit’s leading, the more joyful we will be.
The Power of Biblical Joy
Because Christ conquered death and sin, there is nothing this world can do to steal our joy. Even in the most difficult circumstances, we can be content in knowing that we belong to Christ and this world cannot change this reality.
At the very beginning of the letter of James, a strong statement is made about the nature of biblical joy. James writes, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness” (Jas 1:2-3). James reminds the readers, many of whom were experiencing great adversity, of their joy in Christ. They do not have to fear difficult situations or challenging times. James says, “Count it joy.”
The reason James can make this statement is because he experienced a joy that is far greater than the difficulties found in this world, and he wanted his audience to share in this contentment. James understood that biblical joy is eternal, but the challenges of this fallen world are temporal. Biblical joy transcends adversity, and this is a source of hope to every follower of Christ. Ultimately, joy in adversity leads to strength and endurance.
Biblical Joy in the Workplace
Like James’ audience, many of us encounter “trials of various kinds,” especially in our jobs. Many work environments are filled with adversity. Partiality, strife, envy, and anger are just a few of the fleshly deeds that seem to be normal in many workplaces. Paul’s instructions on the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5 are a great reminder that God has something greater for us. Even though there may be adversity, there is an opportunity for each of us to experience biblical joy at work.
Remember, biblical joy does not come from an extra cup of morning coffee. It comes from the hope we have in Christ and from surrendering to the Spirit’s leading. Biblical joy anticipates a future with Christ while recognizing the contemporary presence of Christ in every moment. Biblical joy recognizes that Christ is sufficient.
As we go to work every day, we have the opportunity to walk with the Spirit, and our relationship with the Spirit is what will produce abundant joy. Every conversation with a colleague is an opportunity to share the joy of Christ. As we pursue the Spirit in our work, we will experience increased contentment because we will recognize the redemptive nature of God’s purposes in our work. If we are lacking joy at the office, let’s remind ourselves that we are working for the Lord, not for man. If we are experiencing “trials of various kinds” on the job, let’s remember that testing produces steadfastness.
Our adversity does not have to be our defeat, but it can be an opportunity to demonstrate the joy of Christ to colleagues who are looking for something more than just a paycheck. In all circumstances, we can have joy because in all circumstances, Christ is Lord.