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.
In the 2nd Edition of the Handbook of Emotions (2000), evolutionary psychologists Leda Cosmides and John Tooby say that happiness comes from "encountering unexpected positive events". In the 3rd Edition of the Handbook of Emotions (2008), Michael Lewis says "happiness can be elicited by seeing a significant other". According to Mark Leary, as reported in a November 1995 issue of Psychology Today, "we are happiest when basking in the acceptance and praise of others".
People pursue happiness at all cost. Divorce, murder, suicide and ruin come to most who pursue it. We shall see why later.
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. Maybe you were dumped or cheated on. Maybe you lost your job. 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 not Christians 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 (of the flesh) and can be felt by any 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--Joy is the response of a Christian’s understanding of God’s love for him in Christ. 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.
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 and promise of heaven.
Happiness--Love it when it comes.
Joy--It’s the love that lasts no matter what.
Joy is something that cannot be taken away by circumstances.
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!
Trials and Temptations
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
I also learned that God is joyful over us. Can you imagine that? God who created everything has joy over us? That boggles my mind, but the Word says it’s true.
17 The Lord your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing.”
5 As a young man marries a young woman,
so will your Builder marry you;
as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride,
so will your God 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.
10 Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
Do you need strength? Dwell on the LORD!
1. You Reap What You Sow
7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. 9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
--Nathan’s pumpkins from small seeds
--what you are planting now will determine what you will reap in the end.(hatred, sexual sin, impurity, disobedience to God, arrogance, pride, independence, bitterness, anger, fear, lack of concern for the poor or the lost)
12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
--Analogy of stillborn child (hope, anticipation, future, promise, excitement, all sorts of feelings, warm fuzzies—major let down—death—it is how sin works, it is empty and sad, depressing. It will destroy you, it will take everything from you if you give in to your desires—it’s up to you!)
2. What Kind of Tree Am I?
A Tree and Its Fruit
43 “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44 Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. 45 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.
The Wise and Foolish Builders
46 “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? 47 As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. 48 They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. 49 But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”
We need to realize that only Christians can have true joy. That’s because it is given to us by the Holy Spirit.
It is one of the fruits of the Spirit.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
How do 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.
19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Anyone who fits in the list above is not a true Christian and will not experience this wonderful joy of the Lord. If you find yourself here, then please consider the scriptural warning, repent and get right with God.
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.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
Happiness--Love it when it comes.
Joy--It’s the love that lasts no matter what.
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 troubles, 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 of things that build you up instead of tearing you down.
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 of 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 He saved us, 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 beautiful nature around us. Look at all He has made.