The relationship between happiness and joy is interesting. For some, these two words are synonyms. For others, they describe very different experiences: happiness is a situational feeling while joy is an ongoing decision. They may overlap and often do, yet one can maintain joy (as Christians are commanded) while not feeling happy. While the second perspective is valid, we must be careful not to divorce these two ideas, if indeed they are not the same. As Christians, our joy should fuel happiness. The sullen yet joyful Christian should not be what the world thinks of when they think of us.
The reason rests in the source of our joy: Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:4). We are commanded to be joyful at all times because the source of our joy is consistent—our salvation through Christ, the gospel. No matter what might be happening in our lives, no matter how difficult and painful they might be, Christ is always there and He is always the same. Our salvation is secure; we are a forgiven people who have received Jesus’ righteousness. This is why we rejoice, even at times through tears.
However, as we turn our minds and hearts to Christ, even in times of trial, happiness should be a natural response of our hearts. Our inner joy should quite often present itself on the outside in smiles and happiness. This is a natural response to being a forgiven people, a people who have received such lavish kindness from God, a people who have eternity with God to look forward to. This is the natural response to the gospel.
When you think of the gospel, what is your usual emotional response? Why?
Voices from Church History
“If we really think that home is elsewhere and that this life is a ‘wandering to find home,’ why should we not look forward to the arrival?” –C. S. Lewis (1898-1963)