What is your source of Joy?

by Abbigail MacKay

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, JOY, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”  – Galatians 5:22-23

My name, Abbigail, means “source of joy”, or so I thought. I always struggled with thinking that I wasn’t joyful enough to have a name that literally means joy. When I did look it up for myself in a Bible dictionary, I found that the name Abbigail actually means, “my father is joy”. So, my name expresses joy not because of who I am but because of who is my Father. God the Father is the source of my joy. In the same way these verses in Galatians, that we so often reference for our day to day actions, isn’t a checklist of all the things we should or could be but is what the Spirit of God offers us. “But the fruit of the Spirit”… all of these; joy, peace, patience etc. are not fruit of ourselves but of the Spirit of God.

So then, what does joy mean? Different dictionary definitions say, “a state of happiness or felicity”, “the emotion evoked by well-being, success or good fortune”, “a source or cause of delight.” These definitions are all well and good but they lack depth. I then looked it up in the Bible dictionary, particularly in the Greek as that was what the New Testament was originally written in and I wanted to know what Paul really meant when he wrote to the church in Galatia. The Greek word used for joy is xará, meaning; delight, gladness, a source of joy. The word ‘rejoice’ appears in the New Testament almost as frequently as the word ‘joy’. The Greek word for rejoice is xairó, meaning; to rejoice, be glad. Both joy and rejoice share the same root word, ‘xar’ which is also found in the Greek word for grace, xáris. All of these words share the same root and share the same core meaning, which is to delight in God’s grace.

Who is your Source?

(REJOICE), to experience God’s grace and to be conscious (glad) for His grace.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-19 “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing…”

James 1:2-4 “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials…”

This joy and rejoicing are in everycircumstance, in the good, the bad and the ugly. Then what does joy look like in terrible or less than ideal circumstances? If anyone in the Bible knows about terrible circumstances, it’s Job. We know what Job lost. He had every right to not rejoice and yet in Job 6:10 he says, “I rejoice in unsparing pain, that I have not denied the words of the Holy One.” I don’t know about you but I don’t normally use rejoicing and unsparing pain in the same sentence, which begs the question again, what does rejoicing look like in terrible or less than ideal circumstances? Going back to the definitions, to rejoice is to delight in God’s grace, to be conscious of it and glad for it. Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the LORD; and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Therefore, if we delight in Him, we will find joy, because He is joy! I may be the only one here with the name Abbigail, but your source of joy is the very same as mine. And the Source produces the fruit in everyone who abides in Him.