Friend, what gives you joy?
According to a recent survey, there are many simple pleasures that give us that joyful feeling. Check out the top 5 items that made the list:
- Listening to your favorite songs
- A nice dinner
- Watching your favorite movie
- Finishing a really good book
- Doing exercise
If you’re like most people, at least one of those items is something you enjoy. While these can be good and wonderful things, they aren’t necessarily the best source of joy. Let’s take a look together at what joy actually is. Then we’ll dig into some scripture to find the real source.
WHAT IS JOY?
Far too often people confuse the idea of joy with that of happiness. But what’s the difference? Well, we’re glad you asked. Happiness is a fleeting feeling based on circumstances. For instance, you feel happy when you finally have that highly-anticipated, expensive cup of coffee handed to you through the coffee shop window. But that happiness ends quickly if you spill it all over your work pants in the car. Joy, on the other hand, is a more permanent thing. It’s is a deep, heart-felt happiness that sticks around even when your circumstances are less than ideal.
Jesus Himself had it even as He endured the cross. Hebrews 12:2 says, “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Jesus endured the punishment of our sin which included humiliation, beatings, and a horrific Roman crucifixion. Why? Because of the joy set before Him. It gave Jesus that deep, heart-felt joy to give you a way to the Father.
WHAT IS THE SOURCE OF JOY?
As much as we enjoy things like movies and books as listed in the survey above, that is not where the real source of joy is found. Happiness, that fleeting feeling, is found in temporary things. But we’ll never find true, lasting joy if we’re looking at the things of the world. Our joyfulness has to come from something more stable and reliable. So where can you get it? Let’s look at what our Bible has to say.
The Holy Spirit
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23
When we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, something incredible happens. The Holy Spirit moves in and makes some much-needed changes. He gives us so many characteristics that honor the Lord if we’ll choose to exercise them. And joy is one of them! Therefore, every believer in Jesus can have joy that comes from the Lord.
The Presence of God
“You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” Psalm 16:11
Friend, never underestimate the importance of time spent with the Lord. As the psalmist says, in the presence of God is where you can get some joy. Even if you’re walking through a difficult season, being in His presence can deliver an otherwise impossible joy. Dig into some Bible study time. Develop your prayer life. And get into the house of the Lord to worship Him alongside your brothers and sisters in Christ. Where two or more are gathered in His name, He is there. You don’t want to miss Him and the joy He fills you with.
Loving Each Other
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” John 15:9-12
This passage tells that two of the fruits of the Spirit are very closely connected. Love and Joy. Loving God by obeying Him and loving others as He loves us results in something we’re all looking for. And did you catch that special descriptor? “Complete.” Friend, you’ll find a complete joy in loving God and loving people. Sounds like a good Danny Gokey song!
Ultimately, we must understand that joy does not come from ourselves or our circumstances. It doesn’t come from exercise or a favorite dinner. It doesn’t come from you favorite cup of coffee. The Lord is our only true source of joy.