I must admit that I am drawn to joyful people. By that I don’t necessarily mean joke tellers (although I like them too). Humor and joy are different things. Humor can encourage us to laugh at the absurdities of life, but humor can also be abusive and cruel, enjoying other people’s pain. Why do you think slipping on banana peels and Punch and Judy puppets clobbering each other (and their many variations) are such timeless material for comedy acts?
Joy is different. Joy is a chosen spirit of optimism and self-confidence. And it’s not just because you feel rich, fit, and smart. Inner joy is produced by the Spirit of the Lord who lives in us. It is the quiet conviction that we are God’s masterful creation, holy through the blood of Christ and dearly loved, protected by ten thousand angels, and given important work to do. Joy is built on the confidence that we can endure any disaster because we’re on our way to heaven.
“The fruit of the Spirit is . . . joy,” said St. Paul (Galatians 5:22). By that he didn’t mean that Christians should be known for their slapstick routines. He meant that Christians are optimists, knowing that they have a great future and thus are able to be kind and patient even with difficult people. They can also like themselves.
The enemies of a joyful spirit are jealousy, bitterness, resentment, fear, and self-hatred. Banish them from your heart right now! Choose joy!