I’ll have to admit that I have been confused between the difference of joy and happiness. I thought I knew what it meant to be happy, but was confused about joy. I wondered if they were the same thing. I often heard Christians say they had the “joy of the Lord,” and I wasn’t sure if I had that or not. So, I decided to study it out and see if I could make it clear to myself what the difference between joy and happiness is.
I realize that happiness depends on our circumstances. It is a feeling or emotion. We can be extremely happy and then the phone rings and we get a call that can dash all the happiness away and fill us with the utmost sadness. Perhaps it was a call from a loved one to let us know that one of our dear relatives had passed away, or been in an accident, or developed a terminal illness. Then all our happy feelings are washed right down the drain. Happiness is fleeting.
Also being happy is something that all people can enjoy. It isn’t dependent on being a Christian. I know lots of people who are unbelievers who are very happy. Their circumstances are good at the present time and all is right with the world. So, happiness isn’t something that is for a Christian only. Happiness is natural (fleshly) and can be felt by the natural man.
Joy on the other hand is not natural to us. It is in fact supernatural (spiritual), and it is a gift of the Holy Spirit. It is something only Christians can experience.
I listened to a sermon by Dr. Alan Cairns that he preached way back in 2000, and he explained joy something like this: (not an exact quote.) “Joy is the response of a believer to the understanding of God’s love for him in Christ.” And, he said that we only know that God loves us by the Holy Spirit.
Isn’t that awesome? When we realize the depth of the love God has for us in Christ then we can respond with utter joy. I like that! Now, I’m beginning to see what joy is. It is my response back to God for ALL He has done for me. He saved me from my sinful self; He adopted me into His family, and He gives me the hope of heaven. There is so much more.
I learned that our creator God is even joyful over us. Can you imagine that? God who created everything has joy over little ole us? That boggles my mind, but the Word says it’s true.
(Zephaniah 3:17 NASB) “The LORD your God is in your midst, A victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.
Wow! That is truly amazing!
(Isaiah 62:5b NASB) …And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, So your God will rejoice over you.
The reason we can be joyful is because God created us in His image and He is joyful. It is our birthright to be full of joy. When we are in Christ we are like Him.
Now here is something I found that’s really a treasure. Listen to this:
(Nehemiah 8:10b NASB) …Do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”
When we see LORD written in all caps like that it means, “the self-existent one.”We need to meditate on that promise: “…for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Where does our strength come from? It comes from our joy in the self-existant one! Isn’t that amazing? Do you need strength? Dwell on the LORD!
We need to realize that only Christians can have this kind of joy. That’s because it is given to us by the Holy Spirit. It is the fruit of the Spirit.
Galatians 5:22-23 NASB But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, (23) gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
The joy that the Lord gives us enables us to cope with life’s trials. It gives us hope, and enables us to become overcomers instead of victims. It is true! This joy of the Lord is very powerful indeed. It is our strength!
How to we apply this joy in our lives?
First lets take a look back in Galatians. We will see a contrast between the works of the flesh and the fruit of the spirit.
Galatians 5:19-21 NASB Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, (20) idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, (21) envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Anyone who fits in the list above is not a true believer and will not experience this wonderful joy of the Lord. If you find yourself here, then please consider it a warning to repent and get right with God. See: http://hatchcreek.com/the-true-gospel-message-2/ The True Gospel Message.
The Bible tells us that believers have the fruit of joy given by the Holy Spirit and with that they have strength. But, we can’t just let it lie there dormant, we must cultivate it and make it grow and become second nature to us. We do this by engaging our mind. God tells us to rejoice in the Lord always. It doesn’t say sometimes when things are going good, but always. Yes, even when things are bad. Remember, our strength is in the joy of the Lord.
Philippians 4:4 NASB Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!
Look at what James says:
James 1:2 NASB Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,
Personally, I never liked this verse. What does he mean by consider it all joy when I come into various trials? Why would that be joyful? That just didn’t make sense to me until now. Because now I see that the joy of the Lord is our strength. And, with that strength I can overcome trials. Praise the Lord! I like that!
We can cultivate the fruit of joy in our lives by taking control of our thoughts. This is so very important. We find the mind to be a very powerful thing and it can be used to lift us up or to tear us down, and the enemy would certainly like it to be used for his purposes. But, Christians don’t have to go there. We don’t have to worry. We don’t have to fret. We don’t have to be weighed down by all our troubles. Yes, we will have trials and tribulations, but they don’t have to destroy us. We don’t have to have extreme anxiety, stress, fear, or helplessness. Those things don’t come from God. We can live above our circumstances!
As you walk close to God and enjoy Him, He will help you train your mind to think on things that build you up instead of tearing you down. Here is a great scripture that you ought to write on a card and put it where you can meditate on it and memorize it.
Philippians 4:8 NASB Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
Whenever, you notice that you are worrying, ask the Lord to change your thoughts into ones that honor Him. Then turn to the list above and think on those things. You can analyze your thoughts and see if they line up with them. Is what I’m thinking about true? Is it honorable? Is it right for me to think about this? Is it pure? Is it lovely? Is it of a good report? Is it excellent or praise worthy? If so, these are the things I should dwell on and not worry about my problems. God will take care of them.
We need to think about Christ, who I believe is pictured above, and all of what He has done for us. We ought to think about how and why we got saved, and how Jesus suffered and died for our sins. We should look to heaven and set our minds on things above. We can dwell on Christ coming again. All those things and more are what we need to think about. Our joy comes from all that Christ has done for us. Our joy comes because we know what lies ahead in heaven. Our joy comes as we dwell on the things of the Lord. Just look at His creation and the beautiul nature around us. Look at all He has made. Look in the face of a little baby and rejoice.
I think I’ve discovered what joy is and now that I have, I am going to cultivate it in my life. How about you?
Is there a difference between joy and happiness? Here is what Andran Rogers has to say:
The Difference Between Happiness and Joy August 14, 2008
Sin promises joy, but it never delivers it. Why? Because true joy is only found in the Lord Jesus Christ. You can be a lost person and be happy for a while. But what I’m talking about here is not happiness because happiness depends upon what happens. Joy depends upon the Lord.
Philippians 4:4 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.” If you live for happiness, you are a prisoner of circumstances because if the circumstances change, then you are not happy anymore.
Jesus never changes. Happiness is a cosmetic; it is on the outside. Joy is character; it is on the inside. Happiness only meets your surface needs, but joy meets your deepest needs. Therefore, happiness is like a thermometer, it just registers conditions. Joy is the thermostat that controls the conditions. Happiness evaporates in a crisis. Joy many times intensifies in a crisis. Happiness is wonder but let me tell you something, friend. Happiness is at its fullest when it is mingled with joy, when you know the joy of the Lord. Adrian Rogers from Love Worth Finding : 8/14/08