The Address of Joy
”For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Romans 14:17).
Where does joy live? The verse above is given in the context of a statement and also as a promise. For Paul is declaring whenever you begin to understand the Kingdom, these things will follow that understanding. Before it is possible to understand the benefits of the kingdom, you first have to understand the defining factors of it.
At the time Paul was addressing the Roman church, the common Jewish custom of the day would be to exclude certain meats and drinks from their diet for religious purposes. However, Paul was declaring the kingdom of God would be different. The kingdom of God would come in greater fulfillment of Old Testament ritualistic ceremonies and customs and would shatter the expectations of man with a glimpse of His glory.
Meat and drink are things we as humanity—as living, breathing flesh—need to sustain us. Meat and drink could be classified as carnal; they are needed for humanity in his carnality. Carnality is a derivative of the word carnivorous, where we get the word carnivore, literally “eating things of the flesh.” Paul is setting the record straight from the beginning. Nothing brought about in the needs of our flesh will be able to touch this kingdom. Once you get the concept of the kingdom, you can begin to walk in the reality of the Spirit; and through His gift, we begin to exhibit and to live out the promises of the fruits of the Spirit.
The particular word rendered here for joy is a word found fifty-nine times in the Bible and is transliterated as chara.. This particular word is significant because the root word of chara is from a feminine noun, which literally means to “draw from.” In other words, to understand what joy is all about in this scripture, you have to know what the feeling of gladness or joyous emotion is being drawn from. If Paul would have written, “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness, and peace, and joy,” and ended with joy, it would have been an incomplete sentence because chara, the true joy, must come from somewhere.
It has to be drawn out of something.
And so, it is recorded that joy is drawn from the Holy Ghost, which is the gateway for us to enter into His kingdom. Joy is only present when His presence is perfected in our lives. We must live our lives with the reality that our joy is not predicated upon what we can make happen in our own might. You cannot make joy happen. Joy does not have a monthly subscription you sign up to receive. It is not possible to force someone to be joyful.
We do not determine or depict the definition of true joy with the deluded sense of a manmade kingdom. For it is only in God’s kingdom, when we enter into His glory and His majesty, through His Spirit, there can be a truly unspeakable joy. Then, we can walk in the newness of life with the leading and guiding of the Holy Ghost in righteousness, peace, and in joy.
I believe that is why Paul would write in II Corinthians 7:4, “Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my glorying of you: I am filled with comfort, I am exceeding joyful in all tribulation.” The noun used in front of the word chara, in front of the joy, can be translated as “I overflow with joy.” How could Paul write this? Because chara has to be drawn from something. Paul is saying even in my tribulation I can still draw joy from what was supposed to be against me. In all things, I can still find joy. He understood when you are in God’s kingdom, even in trial or tribulation or uncertainty, whenever you are His, joy remains.
We can have the joy that literally overflows from within us when we submit to the source from which it comes. Joy, true joy, joy unspeakable, joy that overflows, joy that overtakes is found only when we draw it from the Holy Ghost in God’s kingdom. Only in His kingdom. That is where you will find your joy.
Eric is married to his best friend, Rachel, and has one little girl, Evelyn Rose. Together they serve as the young adult pastors at New Life Christian Center in Lancaster, Ohio. He enjoys being outdoors and adding to his collection of books.