Joy. This is a misunderstood principle in our modern culture. It is not happiness, but instead a deep rooted sense that is independent of life circumstances and fully dependent on our knowledge of God's truth that we are not in control of anything in our world, yet we know that our God, a good God, is in full control. Joy comes from knowing deep down that whatever circumstances the world wants to throw at us, we are able to stand in understanding that all will be made right in the end by a just God.
When I was a young man and not devoted to God, I had an intense hatred for all the world. I did not merely dislike the world, nor was I passively disinterested. Hate is a strong feeling, but it is the word that best describes my attitude toward people that I was forced to see in my daily living. The hurt that I experienced growing up finally manifested itself as general despise for anyone around me. All this changed when Jesus Christ saved my soul, and deep within my heart a seed germinated and that seed was the fruit of the spirit.
Our world is one of choices. We choose our education, occupation, and even those people that we follow as we live our life in the world. We can decide many aspects of our life as long as we are focused on the God who saved the world. We need not be missionaries as long as we confess Jesus before men in our daily lives. But as we make our choices we must consider who we learn from in our spiritual matters. Jesus talked about judging the fruit of spiritual teachers.
I have listened to many sermons over the years, and like many, I have my favorite pastors that I like to listen to on the radio or online. A trap that we may encounter is trying to find that one sermon or that one book to really help us to learn what we need to know to be a good Christian in this world.
We all love a good story and the best stories are epic battles between good and evil. Your typical story will be a good guy laying waste to some bad guys, then the leader of the bad guys defeats the good guy until some moral lesson is learned. The story ends when the good guy finally beats the bad guy. In our human made stories, it is generally easy to see who is good and who is bad in the story, but real life is not like the movies. In a real battle, we all think that we are the good guys and we all think that our enemy is the bad guy. Though this is a human reality of arguments, and we should seek wisdom in these matters to hopefully battle less, but that is even more imperative when we are battling with God.