Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 6, 1958
NUMBER 43, PAGE 2-3b


Doyle Banta, Decatur, Alabama

Jesus in the long ago taught that you could identify a tree by its fruits. When our neighbors look at us today, do you think they identify us as Christians by our fruits? Are we actually producing the fruit of the Spirit as taught by Paul in Gal. 5:22-24? This should be of utmost concern to us. After all, our eternal destiny is dependent upon our productiveness. Jesus taught in John 15 that the fruitless branch will be cut off and burned. As Christians, we should be just as interested in bearing the fruit of the Spirit as we are in urging men to obey in the matter of baptism.

Many times today we do not get as great a number to obey the Lord, because they do not see in us the fruit of the Spirit. For one thing our lives are to abound in joy. Do they see in us cheerfulness in conversation or do we talk just the opposite way? One way our neighbors can know that we are bearing the fruit of the Spirit is by listening to our conversation. In Acts 8 the inspired writer tells us the eunuch went on his way rejoicing after he had been baptized into Christ. The question is, "do I leave the impression with my friends that I am happy in Christ" or do I make them think by the way I talk that Christianity is something awful? No doubt many of us have not been as useful in the Lord's work because of the fact that we have left the wrong impression on those with whom we have come in contact. We speak too often of all those things we have had to give up, rather than of all the joys we have while serving Christ.

Another important question is, "do I get a constant delight in serving the Lord?" The way some members of the body of Christ grumble about doing their duty one can conclude that they do not enjoy serving God. If I am joyful as I should be, then I will get a real joy out of attending every service of the church, out of visiting the sick, helping the widows, orphans and others in need. It will be a great joy to me to visit my lost neighbor and try to teach him the truth.

Here is an important thought: Do I rejoice in the true acknowledgement of God? Do I find joy in knowing that I am serving the one true God? The God who made the worlds and all things therein. The God in whom we live and move and have our being. Yes, our God is ever present. He is interested in our every need. Those who follow false gods do not have such joy. Let us live in such a way that our friends know we are happy serving God.

Do I rejoice in a good work whether being done by myself or someone else? It is pretty easy sometime to be happy when we do a good work, but are we happy seeing some one else getting something done which is worthwhile? It is pretty easy for those of us who preach to be jealous of some one else doing a better work than we are doing. Perhaps we are not as joyful as we ought to be. I know there are many serious problems confronting those of us who devote full time to the Lord's work, but we must never lose sight of the fact that we too are to produce the fruit of the Spirit. We must be happy in our work and happy to see others working. We should seek to edify one another either to do good or to take good. There should be in us a constant delight in God.

The apostle Paul is one of our greatest examples of one who was joyful in the Lord's work. He was cheerful under the most trying circumstances. Even though he had been beaten and placed in jail, yet there in prison we can read that he prayed and sung. Though at Rome in prison when he wrote the Philippian letter, yet he used the word "Joy" or "rejoice" in every chapter. Six times in those four chapters he uses the word "joy," and "rejoice" is used eight times. Some one has suggested the following outline of the book of Philippians. Chapter one — joy of faith. Chapter two a joy of love. Chapter three — joy of communion. Chapter four — joy of hope. This book teaches how Christians ought to be. Under the most adverse circumstances Paul could use the words joy, rejoice, content, peace and thanksgiving. Surely if a man under such conditions could write a book so full of praise, joy and thanksgiving, then most certainly we ought to live lives abounding in joy.

Each congregation should try to conduct its affairs today in such a way that Paul could say, "Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy." (Phil. 1:4.) Can gospel preachers and others look to the congregation where you worship and make a request with joy because of the way that church lives and works? I am afraid in many cases there is not the situation prevailing which would arouse much joy in our hearts. As an individual, make sure that you are doing what you should. Concerning the Philippians (1:25) Paul said: "And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith."

It is quite evident that Paul would have us today do as he requested the Philippians. "Fulfill ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind."

One of the greatest compliments ever paid to a group of people was paid to the Philippians concerning their joy. "Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved." Every Christian today should try to be a "joy and a crown" to the Lord.

There are so many reasons why Christians should rejoice. We can rejoice because we are saved; because we are in Christ; because we have access to all spiritual blessings and because we are members of the Church purchased with the blood of Christ. We ought to rejoice with the word; rejoice because our names are written in heaven; rejoice when the erring return; rejoice in Christian affliction and persecution.

May God help all us to learn to be joyful regardless of what may be our lot in life.