“There is no virtue in the Christian life which is not made radiant with joy,” wrote William Barclay. “There is no circumstance and no occasion which is not illuminated with joy. A joyless life is not a Christian life, for joy is the one constant in the recipe of Christian living.”
The word of the week is joy.
God’s people should be a joyful people. Christianity is not meant to suck the joy of life and leave us listless, disconsolate, and dispirited. In fact, the spirit of joy is one of the great qualities that define the personality of a follower of Christ.
Consider these New testament references.
When Jesus was born the angel said, “I bring you good tidings of great joy that will be to all people.” (Lk. 2:10).
In John 15:11 Jesus said, “these things I have spoken that My joy may remain in you.”
Following Jesus, resurrected from the dead, Mary and Mary Magdalene ran “with great joy” to the tell the disciples.”
After the ascension, the disciples went back to Jerusalem with “great joy” (Lk.24:52).
When Jesus was preached in Samaria, it says there was “great joy in that city” (Ac. 8:8)
And after the Ethiopian Treasurer obeyed the gospel, he went on his way rejoicing.
When the pagan jailer in Ac 16 was baptized “he rejoiced”
It is little wonder then that 18 times in the book of Philippians Paul speaks of joy or rejoicing. He speaks of the “joy of faith.” (1:25)
There is a common thread in the Christian’s joy. Jesus! Jesus brings joy! The religion of Jesus is a joyful religion. Salvation gives birth to Joy. Receiving God’s grace produces joy. In fact, there is a connection with grace and joy.
The Greek word for joy is “chara.” It means gladness, calm, delight or joy. Closely related is the word for grace–“charis.” Charis is “that which bestows on occasion pleasure, delight, or causes favorable regard.”
When grace and truth came in the person of Jesus, so did joy. True joy. Real joy. Genuine joy. Not superficial feelings of happiness. While we may use the words interchangeably, there is a difference between joy and happiness.
Happiness is based on circumstances, but Joy is rooted substance. Happiness may be about things. Joy is about Christ.
Happiness is external, but Joy is internal. Physical and material things may make us happy, but joy comes from the heart. The soul. The inner person.
Happiness is based on chance, but Joy on choice. The word “happy” comes from an old English word “hap” which means luck, chance or accident. Joy is a decision. A determination of the will.
Happiness is temporary, but Joy is timeless! Feelings of happiness will ebb and flow, but joy is constant. Unbounded! Unmoved! Eternal!
Christians are too often guilty of allowing “joy killers” to rob life of its radiance. Worry. Unresolved guilt. Selfishness. Resentment. Fear. These sap our spiritual strength. Drain our spirits. Diminish our joy. Instead replace these negative emotions with faith. Forgiveness. Unselfishness. Acceptance. Courage.
George Bernard Shaw once wrote, “This is true joy in life, being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one. Being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.”
Jesus came to give us an abundant life. But a meaningful life. A purpose-driven life. A joyful life. Even when we must endure pain, problems, or persecution. So, regardless of what happens we can echo the words of the apostle Peter:
“…Rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.” (1 Pet 4:13-14).
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman