Fruit of the Spirit
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
Galatians 5: 22-23
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.
Philippians 4:4
There are lots of people who are Christians who believe that to be a Christian is to resign oneself to a life of suffering and misery. There are some who believe that joy is sinful. That if one is filled with joy, then he is not suffering and thus not growing in the faith. As if growing in faith is only possible through suffering. 
This is incorrect. Joy is one of the fruits of the Spirit. The presence of joy in one’s life indicates the presence of the Holy Spirit in that life. So, joy is a good thing. Now certainly there is a difference between joy and frivolity. And one can take some measure of pleasure, though not necessarily joy, out of doing things that are not in line with Christianity. Doing Godly things that make one feel good, however, is not sinful. Joy is of God; it is a gift of the Holy Spirit.
When the Annunciation was announced to the Virgin Mary, it was with the word “Haire” in Greek, which means “rejoice.” The Archangel Gabriel came to the Virgin Mary and said, “Rejoice highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”  (Luke 1: 28, NKJV) Even though the Virgin Mary was going to carry a very heavy burden and responsibility, and even though she would eventually see her Son die, the angel was telling her to rejoice, to have joy, because this work was of God, it was Holy work, and it was work for which she would receive not only a reward from the Lord, but everlasting praise from people. Just because something makes one joyful does not mean that the task will be easy.  The thing that ends with joy may be difficult and painful.
In Philippians 4:4, St. Paul tells us “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, rejoice.”  This is a reminder that we are to find the joy in the good, and even in the bad. Yes, this is easier said than done. Yes, this is a challenge. But this is the ideal. To find some measure of joy in all things. To be able to rejoice in all circumstances.
We should wake up every day and think about the word joy. Joy can be found in small things, like the warmth of the sun, or the way dew beads up on a blade of grass. It can be found in the smell of food. It can and should be found in the human voice—words used for good, like compliments and encouragement bring joy. The Lord tells us that we are to live in joy. We are to find joy in the small things. We are to spread joy to others through our words and actions.
Of course, the true joy is found in Christ. For a life without Christ eventually ends in sadness, because as life ebbs away, there is no cause for joy. The only thought is of loss. A life lived in Christ, however, points us to joy. As life ebbs away, there actually can be cause for joy, for one is about to leave the pain and stress of life to enter the ecstasy of everlasting joy in the Kingdom of Heaven.
I’ve seen many people at the end of life. Some pass away in fear. Others with question marks on their heads. But to the faithful Christian, I have seen people actually pass away in joy, confident that they are going to a place of everlasting joy. The is the ultimate goal of life—to live in the joy of the Lord, so that one can fall asleep in the joy of the Lord.
For today’s prayer, I’m going to use one of the post-Communion prayers which ends with a statement of joy about the Lord:
I thank You, Lord my God, that You have not rejected me, a sinner, but have made me worthy to partake of Your holy mysteries. I thank You that You have permitted me, although I am unworthy, to receive Your pure and heavenly gifts. O loving Master, who died and rose for our sake, and granted to us these awesome and life-giving mysteries for the well-being and sanctification of our souls and bodies, let these gifts be for healing of my own soul and body, the averting of every evil, the illumination of the eyes of my heart, the peace of my spiritual powers, a faith unashamed, a love unfeigned, the fulfilling of wisdom, the observing of Your commandments, the receiving of Your divine grace, and the inheritance of Your kingdom. Preserved by them in Your holiness, may I always be mindful of Your grace and no longer live for myself, but for You, our Master and Benefactor. May I pass from this life in the hope of eternal life, and attain to the everlasting rest, where the voices of Your Saints who feast are unceasing, and their joy, beholding the ineffable beauty of Your countenance, is unending. For You, Christ our God, are the true joy and the inexpressible gladness of those who love You, and all creation praises You forever. Amen.
Live joyfully today!


Fr. Stavros Akrotirianakis

Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015. The Prayer Team now has its own dedicated website! Fr. Stavros has produced multiple books, you can view here:


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