Worldly Happiness is not Joy!
The world offers happiness that is a pale imitation of the true joy; that only God can give us. The happiness that unsaved people experience is temporary and comes and goes depending on the situation at the time. If things are going good, they are happy. When things are hard, there is no happiness to be found. In the book of Job, one of Job’s friends utters some insightful words: “You know that the joy of the wicked does not last long. That has been true a long time, ever since Adam was put on earth. Those who don’t know God are happy for only a short time.” (Job 20:5 ERV ). There can be no true joy apart from God.
Wherever people know, love, and worship God, His love instills a joy, that only He can give, into the hearts of His worshipers
In The Old Testament, Joy Was Associated With The True Worship Of God
Joy is a prominent feature of the true worship of God in the Old Testament. Wherever people know, love, and worship God, His love instills a joy, that only He can give, into the hearts of His worshipers (I Chronicles 15:16; Ezra 3:12, 6:16; Psalm 16:11, 32:11, 51:12 and many more).
In the times of King Hezekiah, the Israelites rededicated themselves to God and we read, “So there was great joy in Jerusalem, for since the time of Solomon the son of David king of Israel there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem” (II Chronicles 30:26 ESV). The people’s renewed commitment to God reignited the joy in their hearts that only He can produce. Believers today can experience this same joy when he or she is dedicated to Jesus.
Joy Is A Gift From God
Joy is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, who resides in the heart of the believer, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness…” (Galatians 5:22 ESV). God is the author of all these good things. When someone becomes a Christian, the Holy Spirit gives these qualities to the believer. Joy is also an integral part of the Kingdom of God and will exist wherever believers are present, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17 ESV).
Doing God’s Will Increases Our Joy
As many Christians can tell you being involved in the spread of the Gospel brings joy to their heart. Personally, when I see someone get saved or I know that someone has been encourage in their walk of faith, I cannot help but feel a sense of joy. Paul also experienced this often in his ministry (II Corinthians 1:24, 2:3; Philippians 1:4, 2:2; I Thessalonians 2:19, 20, 3:9; II Timothy 1:4; Philemon 1:7; and many other passages). John experienced the joy of ministry, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 1:4 ESV).
Circumstances Cannot Take Away Our Joy
In Second Corinthians 6:10, Paul says that Christians can even be “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing”. This means that even when we are in the midst of a situation that legitimately brings us sorrow, our inner joy is never taken away. The very core of our being can still rejoice in the fact that we are forgiven children of God who enjoy an intimate relationship with the Creator of the universe. Our joy is strengthened when we remember that, no matter what the circumstances, God is with us and He is above all.
We see this in the writings of several New Testament authors:
James says that we should, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness” James 1:2-3.
Paul when he faced incredible hardships, “Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me” Philippians 2:17-18 .
Peter encourages us with, “…rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed” 1 Peter 4: 13.
The Only Thing That Can Steal Our Joy Is Sin
Godly joy is a wonderful thing; it is a gift from God to every believer. However, Sin can steal our joy. It is difficult to experience the joy of our relationship with God when we have done something that damages that relationship. Joy is a gift of the Holy Spirit; when we grieve the Holy Spirit by our sin, we interfere with the flow of joy from God. If we find that we are experiencing joy less and less, we may need to reevaluate our relationship with Jesus Christ to make sure we are living as we should.
Christians Should ‘Rejoice Always’
Rejoice means to feel joy or great delight. Paul writes 5:16-18, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you”. This joy, prayer, and thanksgiving should characterize the life of the Christian. It is God’s will for the believer; this is how God wants us to live. “Rejoicing always” does not mean that we are to paste a fake smile on our faces no matter what is going on in our lives or the lives of those we love. It means hat we are to remain steadfast in our knowledge that God is our strength and comfort, no matter what circumstances we find ourselves. If our relationship with Jesus is right, and we confess and repent of any sin, we will experience joy at all times…whether those times be good or bad.