Fruit of the Spirit: Joy

When I hear the word "joy," two things come to my mind:

  1. The song I learned in Sunday school as a child, "I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart. Where?! Down in my heart!" (Raise a hand if you sang that instead of reading it.)
  2. Joy, the character from the movie Inside Out.

Singing that song as a child was one of my favorites because we got to yell in church, which was normally frowned upon. And why not? We had joy, and we wanted to shout about it! Through that song, I learned that joy was big.

In the movie Inside Out, Joy is a radiant, energetic character who embodies happiness and optimism. Alongside Sadness, Fear, Anger, and Disgust, Joy is the driving emotion that helps little Riley through a tough move. She is depicted as a glowing, yellow figure with boundless enthusiasm for life, and her primary goal is to ensure Riley's happiness. She constantly strives to keep Riley's experiences positive, often trying to minimize the influence of the other emotions, particularly Sadness. Joy's understanding of happiness is initially one-dimensional, equating it with the absence of any negative emotions. However, the crux of the film revolves around Joy's journey to understand the complexity of human emotions and to recognize the essential role that Sadness plays in Riley's well-being.

Throughout this adventure, Joy learns that sadness is not an enemy of happiness but a crucial part of it. She discovers that Sadness can bring people together, heal wounds, and make happy moments shine brighter by contrast.

Joy is not the absence of negative emotions or bad things that happen. Joy is the big emotion that rides alongside all the other emotions God gave us to learn and express the life we are living.

As a child, I thought joy was merely big happiness. As I’ve gotten older and matured, understanding the beautiful balance of emotions, I’ve learned that joy is a complex emotion of delight and contentment. Joy springs from deep within my soul, independent from what’s happening around me. It’s the light that shines from the inside out, illuminating and making the mundane magical.


For me, joy is often found in such simple things that speak to the core of who I am: a bee landing on a flower in my garden collecting pollen, a meal shared with friends, sitting around laughing and enjoying each other’s company, or sitting on my sister’s porch watching the birds float on the wind.

What does Joy mean to you?