You, however, are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God lives in you. Romans 8:9
Who knew that the sweet little Sunday school song I’ve Got the Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy Down in My Heart was revealing a symbiont relationship. Yes, this feels a bit sci-fi, but it is far from fiction. Before you get visions of Alien, and creep yourself out, let’s look back at the definition. [Woo Hoo! Science and English!]
Symbiosis noun [sim-bee-oh-seez]
- the living together of two dissimilar organisms resulting in which both benefit from the association. 2. a relationship between two people in which each person is dependent upon and receives reinforcement.
If you know anything about the Holy Spirit, you know this pretty much describes Him. If we have decided to follow Jesus, the Holy Spirit is living with us. He is nothing like us, yet chooses to live with us. This is no ‘side-by-side’ arrangement. We are not merely affected by an outside influence commonly portrayed as an angel on our shoulders. He actually lives in us at the heart of our being.
So how does the Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy Down in My Heart show off this particular relationship? In Galatians 5 there is a section of scripture that describes what the attributes of the Holy Spirit happen to be. Joy is included in that list, as is love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. When the Holy Spirit makes His home ‘down’ in our hearts, these come along with Him. Each of these characteristics come in a ‘God-sized’ supply, and since our symbiotic relationship is a beneficial one, they are all available to us at any time.
So why then, do we struggle to love or be patient? Why do we lack the faith or have issues with self-control? How is it these things just don’t come easy? All good questions. The answer may lie in the very noisy conditions found in our hearts.
When the Holy Spirit moved in, our hearts still had a lot of chatter coming from all kinds of voices demanding our attention. It is somewhat like when you are taking with a friend on the phone and her kids are playing in the same room. All you can hear is the noise from the background, and your conversation gets choked out because of all the racket.
First Thessalonians 5:19 says “Don’t stifle the Spirit.” That word stifle is the Greek word σβέννυμι sbénnymi meaning to extinguish, quench, or suppress. The English dictionary lists a few more synonyms like smother, asphyxiate, suffocate, choke. This verse is essentially saying, “Do not suffocate the Holy Spirit. [You need Him breathing into your life.]” Commentary added.
The smothering process happens when we choose to live by any other voice besides the Spirit’s wise counsel. We tend to push down His advice, searching out other options in books and on websites. We consider our friend’s opinions hoping they support what we want to choose. And, time-after-time, we blatantly cover our ears and shout out all the good reasons or excuses of why our way would be best. But each time we eliminate something that is preventing us from hearing the Holy Spirit, the volume of His wisdom and ways are turned up, making them easier for us to hear and live by.
I think there is another thing is worth pointing out. The amount of love, joy, peace, patience, etc. that become ours may be in direct correlation to the amount of ourselves we have given over to God. A complete supply of the Holy Spirit’s fruit is always available to us, but we must determine to give our entire lives to Him to fully take part in it.
I know, I know. Not easy. Rest assured, we are all a work in progress. The Holy Spirit lends His expertise in all areas of our lives if we will only stop stifling His voice and follow His direction. Then, this most beneficial of all relationships can flourish, and along with it the joy, joy, joy, joy down in our hearts.
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in Him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13
- Write out the following verses in your journal—Romans 8:5-11
- Make some observations on what this passage is saying.
- What does it look like to have the Spirit of Christ?