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Playing with Joy

The fruit of the Spirit is . . . joy. Galatians 5:22

One of our sons, Brian, is a high school basketball coach. One year, as his team was dribbling its way through the Washington State Basketball Tournament, well-meaning folks around town asked, “Are you going to win it all this year?” Both players and coaches felt the pressure, so Brian adopted a motto: “Play with joy!”

I thought of the apostle Paul’s last words to the elders of Ephesus: “That I may finish my race with joy” (Acts 20:24 nkjv). His aim was to complete the tasks Jesus had given him. I have made these words my motto and my prayer: “May I run and finish my race with joy.” Or as Brian says, “May I play with joy!” And by the way, Brian’s team did win the state championship that year.

We all have good reasons to get grouchy: discouraging news, everyday stresses, health problems. Nevertheless, God can give us a joy that transcends these conditions if we ask Him. We can have what Jesus called, “my joy” (John 15:11).

Joy is a fruit of the Spirit of Jesus (Galatians 5:22). So we must remember each morning to ask Him to help us: “May I play with joy!” Author Richard Foster said, “To pray is to change. This is a great grace. How good of God to provide a path whereby our lives can be taken over by . . . joy.”

What causes you to be discouraged? Where do you find your joy?

I turn my eyes to You, God. I’m grateful I can count on Your faithfulness to me. Please bring me into Your joy.


When we’re reading the Scriptures, it’s important to identify whether the author is imparting information about what God has already done or is giving direction for what we are to do. In Galatians 5:22–23, the apostle Paul lists the fruit of the Spirit, which is the result of the Spirit’s work in our lives, not our work. However, in verses 25–26 he tells us to “keep in step with the Spirit.” The Greek word for “keep in step” or “walk” (nkjv) means “to march in military rank; to conform to virtue and piety; to walk orderly.” Pictured here is spiritual growth that comes from teamwork. The fruit that grows is the responsibility of the Spirit, but it’s our job to see where the Spirit is working in our lives and to “keep in step” with Him. We’re participants in our spiritual growth, but not solely responsible for it.

J.R. Hudberg

By |2019-06-20T12:08:17-04:00June 24th, 2019|
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