God’s Most Glorious Joy

written by Chris Lazzaro
Entering a back alley in Kuala Lumpur, we walked into a festival of smell. Pulling my wife and me through this fruit-hawker street, Muthu led us to each fruit stand, sharing his knowledge of how to select and eat the juicy lychee, the sweet rambutan, the tart soursop, and the especially odorous durian. This was an act of “en-joy-ment” — stepping into and embracing joy through the intimate sensory experience with our friend.

Reflecting on that day, nearly fifteen years past, I’m drawn to Paul’s description of joy as a fruit of the Spirit.

Let’s give this concept a name: Joy-Fruit. Joy-fruit doesn’t happen accidentally, rather it is produced by joy-fruit saplings planted long earlier. Muthu planted some of these saplings in my life, offering me rare opportunities at a young age: a university teaching position that grew into leading student trips overseas that ultimately ripened into unexpected joy-fruit on the streets of Kuala Lumpur.

Similarly, Christ’s birth was God’s most glorious joy-fruit, stemming from a sapling He planted long ago and nurtured across the ages. In Jesus, God showed the results of His glorious long-running plan when he harvested love, hope, and salvation for all – joy-fruit to the world. Jesus then planted more of these saplings in the hearts of his followers and taught them to continue this glorious work until His return.

For us, living in imitation of Christ means we’re constantly planting joy-fruit saplings in the lives around us.

Nurturing another’s potential, standing by someone in adversity, selflessly addressing a need, and extending love to the overlooked are just some of the saplings Christ modeled for us to plant.

So in this Advent season, reflect on the saplings you still have to plant. For every joy-fruit we help grow, we reflect the very Glory of God that came to us in the form of a baby in Bethlehem. In doing so, we make the message of Christ’s birth, life, and resurrection savory and deliciously real for the world around us.

I write this devotional as Courtney and I travel back to Kuala Lumpur to meet Muthu with our children, and I eagerly anticipate seeing their joy in sharing these experiences.

Fifteen years on, Muthu’s sapling is still bearing joy-fruit.

Two thousand years on, God’s glorious gift to humankind still bears joy-fruit.

May we plant saplings that will long bear joy-fruit for the glory of God!

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