The Source of Joy

These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11).  

- John 15:1–17

A pastor once went to visit one of his parishioners who had not been attending Sunday service in a while. The man happened to be outside cooking on the grill and the pastor moved one of the hot coals off of the pile of burning charcoal as he listened to his parishioner tell him that he did not need the church to be a Christian. After a while, the lone coal grew cold and the pastor told his parishioner that his fervor for Christ would also cool if he continued to isolate himself from other believers.

Now if separation from other believers will make us cold in our fervor for Jesus and consequently, less fruitful as Christians, how much colder will we be if we separate ourselves from Jesus Himself? This is the main point of today’s passage. Jesus likens Himself to a vine and those who profess His name to the branches of this vine (John 15:1–3). As branches take part in the vine to yield fruit, so too must we abide in Christ to bear spiritual fruit (v. 4; Gal. 5:22–23)

This text is not a theological treatise on the possibility of losing one’s salvation (which cannot happen, John 6:37–39); its main point is to encourage believers to live their lives in Christ so that they can continue to be nurtured by Him. Those who do this bear much fruit (15:5–8), one of which is the fruit of joy (Gal. 5:22).

Abiding in Jesus means keeping His commandments (John 15:9–10). It goes without saying that we only truly love the Savior if we do what He says. We must love the Lord above all else, love our neighbors as ourselves (Mark 12:28–34; Rom. 13:9), be willing to leave everything behind to follow Jesus (Luke 9:62), and seek to follow God’s holy Word in all we do. Remaining in Christ also requires us not to forsake the assembling of the brethren (Heb. 10:24–25), for it is through admonition and encouragement from others that the Lord prunes us and makes us more fruitful (John 15:2).

All of our attempts to find joy will be futile if we do not abide in Jesus, because we cannot make ourselves joyful in our own power. But as we live in Christ, His perfect joy will dwell in us and make our experience of joy ever more consistent and full (John 15:10–11).

Coram Deo

Christ’s perfect joy in the Father will one day dwell in us as we dwell in Him. Of course, our flesh still battles against this, and thus our joy in the Lord will not be perfect before His return. Still, as we sit at the feet of Jesus and are nourished from His Word by His Spirit, the spiritual fruit of joy will become an ever-present part of our lives. If your joy is not consistent, is it possible that you are not obeying Christ or spending regular time in prayer with Him

Passages for Further Study

Ps. 35:27–28
Eccl. 2:24–26a
Jer. 9:23–24
James 2:8–9

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