Some people think the Christian life is supposed to be so stoic with the “thou shalt nots” that one could never experience real happiness. But, the opposite is true. Real, true joy and happiness are found in one’s relationship with God through faith in Christ Jesus. The apostle Paul tells us that the character the Holy Spirit produces in us and through us is manifested in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.
These qualities of life are a result of growing as a Christian. Let’s look at the kind of person these qualities of life will enable us to be.
The first one mentioned is love. It is a quality of love that many never experience. It is “godly love.” Jesus prayed that this kind of love will be in us as believers in Him, “Righteous Father . . . I have made You known to them, and will continue to make You known that the love You have for Me may be in them . . .” (John 17:25-26) It is this quality of love in us that enables us to do what Jesus asked us to do, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who mistreat you.” (Luke 6:27-28) It is this quality of love that produces these other fruit of the Spirit that Paul lists: joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control, which is discipline in one’s personal life.
It is also this quality of love that puts real joy and happiness in a home. It produces genuine love between husband and wife, and between parents and children. Contrast this to a home where there is constant discord (hatred, bitterness, cursing, fighting) which usually develops in the break-up of the family. As you compare the two, which family and individual members of the family do you think has the more abundant life? I say the family who has a relationship with God, who worship Him individually and as a family unit.
The writers of the New Testament encouraged churches and individual believers to involve themselves in the study of the Scriptures, and fellowship with one another which will help them to be molded into the character of Christ Jesus.
The apostle Paul encourages the believers at Philippi to allow their love for each other to grow as they fellowship and work together. (Philippians 1:9 & 2:2) Paul also encourages young Timothy to, “Be diligent to present yourself to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed.” (II Timothy 2:15)
The apostle Peter wrote, “To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ . . . grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (II Peter 1:1 & 18)
James wrote to encourage new believers, letting them know of the growing relationship they could have with God, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands . . . and purify your hearts.” (James 4:8)
Dr Billy Graham wrote the book, The Secret of Happiness. In the first chapter he described man’s plight in his search for happiness. “Our materialistic world rushes on with its eternal quest for the fountain of happiness! The more knowledge we acquire, the less wisdom we seem to have. The more economic security we gain, the more bored and insecure we become. The more worldly pleasure we enjoy, the less satisfied and contented we are with life. We are like a restless sea, finding a little peace here and a little pleasure there, but nothing permanent and satisfying. So the search continues! Men will kill, lie, cheat, steal, and go to war to satisfy their quest for power, pleasure, and wealth, thinking thereby to gain for themselves their particular group peace, security, contentment, and happiness, and yet in vain. But there is another kind of happiness—the kind for which we all long. This kind of happiness is a lasting, inner joy and peace which survives in any circumstances. It is a happiness which endures no matter what comes our way—and even may grow stronger in adversity. This is the kind of happiness to which Jesus summons us in the Beatitudes. It is happiness which can only come from God. He alone has the answer to our search for lasting happiness.”